ME tentatively identifies baby's remains found in storage unit
The Rhode Island medical examiner said Friday that it has tentatively identified the remains of a baby found inside a Johnston storage unit.
The baby and the decomposing remains of two adults were found Thursday in a storage unit on Putnam Pike that was rented by the deceased owner of a Providence funeral home where additional bodies were stored improperly.
The medical examiner said the storage unit contained a man in a metal coffin, a woman in a cremation transport container, and a baby boy in a small padded chest. Both adults had spinal surgery, the medical examiner said.
The remains were found by a man who bought the unit's contents during an auction. It was later discovered that he inadvertently took away the remains of the baby.
The medical examiner also said the unit contained some personal effects of Alfred Pennine, a funeral director who died last month in New Hampshire.
The state Department of Health found the remains of six bodies improperly stored at Pennine Funeral Home. The funeral home has been shut down.
Police said there may be additional bodies stored elsewhere that were not properly buried or cremated.
"We've got to see what the investigation brings. Obviously, the scope has widened. We expected, or thought we could expect this to happen. So, we've been looking around," said Providence police Maj. David Lapatin.
Police said they believe the bodies were inside the storage unit for about six months, but the medical examiner said it has not yet determined how long the remains might have been there.
The medical examiner said five of the six remains found at the Pennine Funeral Home have been identified. It said the deaths occurred between December 2001 and July 2013. Families of four of the five have been notified, and two of the remains have been released to local funeral homes.
The medical examiner said the unidentified individual is a man who probably died at least 10 years ago.
The state said 45 cremated remains were also found in connection with the Pennine Funeral Home. Forty-three of the cremated remains have been identified.
The medical examiner said it would not release the names of the individuals, citing privacy concerns.