According to the Detroit Free Press, Erika and Christopher Hinson’s son, Ellis, was stillborn at the Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit on January 30, 2014.
The lawsuit states that Erika Hinson repeatedly contacted the hospital over the next three months to arrange for her son’s funeral, but they kept making excuses about where the boy’s remains were located.
In April 2018, the Hinsons finally were informed that Baby Ellis’ remains had been located—misplaced inside of a “Tupperware-like container” at the Cantrell Funeral Home.
Since the discovery at Cantrell became public, allegations of improper burials at multiple funeral homes in surrounding areas have been pouring in, reports the Detroit Free Press.
To date, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has shut down three funeral homes involved in the investigation: two in Detroit, Cantrell Funeral Home and Perry Funeral Home; and a third, Charles G. Parks Funeral Home, in Petoskey.
But the most alarming accusation came yesterday, when the Hinsons’ lawyer, Bill Colovos, came forward to dispute the timeline issued by LARA.
On August 29, investigators claimed they found “a stillborn corpse in a box atop a tablethat was not present during the April 2018 inspection,” but Colovos said those remains are that of Baby Ellis, and the “box” they are referring to was actually a Tupperware-like plastic container with a lipped lid.
“It was right on the desk, they used it, sad to say, as a paperweight,” he said. “I hate to say that. But this is what we’re dealing with.”
He also said the Hinsons were a low-income family, unable to pay for a funeral at the time, adding that they made a deal with Cantrell Funeral Home, allowing them to hold their child’s remains until they could afford a proper burial.
According to Colovos, no one ever told the family about financial aid offered by the state to cover funeral expenses, nor were they informed that “failing to dispose of the remains” was illegal.
“I don’t know if that’s the reason they thought they could violate the law for beyond six months of having a final disposition of the body,” said Colovos. “It’s just really, really—they’re all sad—but this one especially is just disturbing, and I don’t use that word lightly.”
Though the Hinsons’ nightmare is nowhere near over, Brian Joseph, the owner of Verheyden Funeral Homes of Grosse Pointe Park, who has been working with other families involved in the Cantrell scandal, has stepped up to ease some of their burden. We are happy to report that the remains of Baby Ellis have finally been laid to rest.