PHILADELPHIA – A child-sized casket containing the embalmed internal organs of an infant that was found on a Philadelphia sidewalk was dumped there by a New Jersey funeral home worker, police said Thursday.
Police got a call Monday night that a small white casket had been found in a black trash bag, not far from several cemeteries. Inside, officers found no body but a black garbage bag with the internal organs belonging to a 3- to 4-month-old baby.
"It was shocking to say the least," Capt. Malachi Jones said. "It begs the question: Where is the baby?"
Initially, police thought the casket had been dug up from one of the nearby cemeteries, but an investigation revealed none had any disturbed graves.
"It was basically a whodunit," Jones said.
On Tuesday, the New Jersey funeral home director reached out to Philadelphia police and said an employee had admitted to dumping the casket, saying he had no idea there were any remains inside.
The child's funeral was last Thursday, and just before the service, the latch on the coffin broke, Jones said. Funeral home workers transferred the child's body to a new casket, and the broken one was placed in a work car, he said. It's not clear why the organs — which were removed as part of an autopsy —were left in the broken casket.
Police have been in touch with the child's family, and they hope to reunite the organs with the baby's body. However, the child has already been buried, so the remains would have to be exhumed in order to bury the organs with the baby, Jones said.
"The family is quite upset," he said.
It's unclear why the employee dumped the casket, and why he did it in Philadelphia. The name of the funeral home hasn't been released.
No charges have been filed, but the investigation is continuing.