POCATELLO — Authorities believe they know the origin of 50 fetuses found in Downard Funeral Home but police are asking for help identifying six decomposed bodies from the facility.
The fetuses have been positively identified as remains donated to Idaho State University for educational purposes as part of a decades-old biology collection, according to an ISU news release. showing fetal development. This collection, designed to show fetal development, was transferred to Downard for cremation in April 2017.
"During the course of this week's investigation by the Pocatello Police Department, Idaho State learned for the first time that the fetuses were never cremated by the funeral home," the news release says.
The Idaho Legislature passed the Idaho Unborn Infants Dignity Act in 2016, which generally prohibits public institutions from using unborn infant remains or embryonic stem cells for research or study. The university determined the biology collection likely fell under the purview of the new law so it reached out to Downard Funeral Home for help with cremation.
In April 2017, ISU says Downard picked up 61 fetuses, the majority of which were donated to the university prior to 1981 and did not contain any new donations beyond 1998.
"Idaho State's relationship with Downard Funeral Home ended in May 2020. An internal audit last fall of all records and dealings with Downard Funeral Home indicated multiple causes for concern," the news release says. "The university filed formal complaints with the Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Pocatello Police Department, and the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. At no time during the university's internal audit was it discovered that the fetal remains were never cremated."
Crews from Pocatello Fire and EMS were called to Downard Sept. 2 after receiving reports of a foul stench emanating from the building. Pocatello police officers served a search warrant Friday and began removing bodies from inside the facility to a refrigerated trailer provided by the Ada County Coroner's Office.
Pocatello police say 12 bodies were inside the home and so far, six have been identified. Authorities need help figuring out the identities of the remaining individuals.
The descriptions are listed as follows (subject numbers were provided by police):
Subject No. 2
Adult male approximately mid-60s to early-70s at the time of his passing. The male has an average build. Male has a white/grey mustache, short white beard stubble, balding with white hair, and thick, dark eyebrows. He was wearing a maroon T-shirt with a front left breast pocket. He was wrapped in a dark blue sheet around his back and had a red, white, and black plaid fleece blanket around his legs. He also has gold teeth/fillings on his upper rear molars. The male may have been in hospice care at the time of his passing. It is estimated that he has been at the facility for approximately 30 to 60 days.
Subject No. 3
Adult male approximately early to mid-60s at the time of his passing. The male has a white beard with salt and pepper short hair with a full head of hair. The male is barrel-chested and appears to have a large frame. He was wearing a long-sleeve blue T-shirt with three buttons at the collar and a left breast pocket. He was wearing black athletic pants and had on a green nonslip sock on the left foot and a red nonslip sock on the right foot. He was wrapped in a blue/teal pattern fitted bed sheet and a white, grey, and red knitted Christmas-type blanket. He also had a pillow below his head that had a blue pillowcase with penguins and polar bears in Santa hats. The male may have been in hospice care at the time of his passing. It is estimated that he has been at the facility since late November 2020 to early January 2021.
Subject No. 6
Believed to be an adult female in her 70s to 80s at the time of their passing. Subject has white hair approximately to the collar and was only wearing a blue, purple, green, and red plaid button-up collared long sleeve shirt. The time estimation on this subject is unknown due to the circumstances. The subject may have been in hospice care at the time of their passing. Subject appears to have their upper teeth, with a slightly crooked upper front right incisor that protrudes further than the left incisor. The subject has a very thin build and appeared to be shorter.
Subject No. 7
Adult female approximately late 50s to early 60s at the time of her passing. The female is of average build and has dyed red hair that was in a bun on top of her head, but growing grey roots. The female had obvious tooth decay, and her upper front teeth are very short and dark-colored. Female was wearing a pink button-up pajama top with long sleeves that had "Sweet Cat" printed on it with images of grey and black cartoon cats. The female did not have pants on. She was wearing white socks with purple toes and heels, and "U-R AMAZING" in pink letters. The female may have been in hospice care at the time of her passing. It is estimated that she had been at the facility for a few days before 9/3/2021.
Subject No. 9
Adult male approximately late 30s to early 40s at the time of his passing. The male is approximately 6'0" tall with an athletic body type, brown hair with slight greying, and had a well-groomed beard. The male appears to have been embalmed and had on make-up for a viewing and/or a funeral service. He was wearing a white long sleeve t-shirt and blue jeans. He has three distinct tattoos; one on the back of his neck that is a sun with sunbursts, one on his left side with a black bull with red eyes and blue lightning bolts surrounding it, and a Rottweiler dog sitting on a pile of skulls on his right calf. Based on the circumstances, it is unknown how long he has been at the facility due to the embalming process.
Subject No. 11
Adult female approximately 60s to 70s at the time of her passing. The female was bald and had a curly dark grey wig. She had pink acrylic or press-on fingernails and was wearing a long pink pajama shirt with a screen print of a bear holding a coffee cup, wearing pink bunny slippers that had "I'm a BEAR in the morning" printed on the front. She had a medical port on her chest that was purple. The female may have been in hospice care at the time of her passing. It is estimated that she had been at the facility for approximately two weeks before 9/3/2021.
Three sets of cremated remains were identified and turned over to family members Thursday and officers are continuing to work with the Idaho Board of Occupational Licensing. Police say employees of Downard Funeral Home and Crematory are cooperating with investigators.
Family members, friends or hospice workers with information on the unidentified deceased individuals are asked to call the Pocatello Police Department at 208-234-6121 or the Bannock County Coroner's Office at 208-236-7377.