Police remove 34 bodies from English funeral home and arrest 2 for fraud and preventing burial

Police stand guard outside the Beckside branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors, in Hull, England, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Police in northern England say they have removed 34 bodies from a funeral home and arrested a man and woman on suspicion of fraud and preventing lawful burials. The arrests Sunday follow several days of investigation at Legacy Funeral Directors in Hull and two related funeral homes. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

Police stand guard outside the Beckside branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors, in Hull, England, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Police in northern England say they have removed 34 bodies from a funeral home and arrested a man and woman on suspicion of fraud and preventing lawful burials. The arrests Sunday follow several days of investigation at Legacy Funeral Directors in Hull and two related funeral homes. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Nearly three dozen bodies were removed from a funeral home in northern England, and a man and woman were arrested Sunday on suspicion of fraud and preventing a lawful burial, police said.

Humberside Police announced the developments after five days of investigation at three branches of Legacy Funeral Directors in Hull and East Yorkshire.

Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin said 34 bodies had been taken to a mortuary in Hull for identification.

A 46-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, whose identifies weren’t disclosed by authorities, were arrested on suspicion of preventing a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position.

No other details were available about the nature of the suspected crimes.

In the U.S. there have been several sensational cases of funeral home operators being arrested after dozens of bodies and cremated remains were found on their properties.

Nearly 200 decaying bodies were discovered piled up last year in a bug and maggot infested funeral home in Colorado and the owners face hundreds of charges, including abuse of a corpse. Prosecutors said some relatives had received fake ashes instead of the cremated remains of their loved ones.

Humberside police said 350 people had contacted them since Friday after they asked families who had lost loved ones to contact investigators if they had concerns.

“Please be reassured that my staff and officers are working around the clock to deal with the unprecedented inquiries generated as a result of this incident,” McLoughlin said. “Families affected continue to be supported by family liaison officers at what we appreciate is an extremely distressing time for all involved.”

A website for the business said it was family run and had been established in 2010 and then expanded. The last news update on the website — from 2021 — said that despite uncertainty with COVID-19 services could continue and it was planning to open a fourth branch.

“As an independent funeral director, we are able to create a unique farewell for loved ones, with more flexibility and less constraint than our competitors,” the website said. “With such breadth of experience, you and your family are assured the best service and care available.”

An email sent to the funeral home by The Associated Press seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned and a phone listed for the business rang unanswered.

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