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July 06, 2017

Police identify origins of infant-size open casket found on Philadelphia street

A child-size funeral casket containing infant organs, originally reported to police late Monday night, originated from a New Jersey funeral home. According to police, an employee of the funeral home discarded the casket, which belonged to a 3- or 4-month-old baby.

Police initially thought the casket may have been dug up from one of the two neighboring cemeteries by the 3000 block of West Clearfield Street, which is just across from Mt. Vernon Cemetery and close to Laurel Hill Cemetery in West Allegheny. 6ABC reported, however, that a New Jersey funeral home contacted police to say it was theirs.

The small, white casket was found open and contained not a human body, but a plastic bag of human organs. A medical examiner identified them as two embalmed infant organs, 6ABC said.

The New Jersey funeral home, which has not been identified, contacted investigators to say the casket derived from its vicinity and that the casket once held an infant’s body, but the body was transferred to a different casket because the initial one was broken.

According to CBS3, the employee didn't realize the organs were still inside the casket. 

Philadelphia Police Capt. Malachi Jones said in a news conference that the funeral for the infant was held in New Jersey, so it’s still unclear why or how the broken casket, and the organs, ended up in Philadelphia. Jones said the infant may have had an autopsy, which would explain the removed organs.

"That's what we're trying to determine, exactly why it was discarded," Jones told CBS3. "As we said, we are definitely investigating that and we have good direction and we are confident that this will be brought to closure very shortly."

Jones added that the police are working with the district attorney's office to determine if charges should be filed against the funeral home or against the employee.