61 dead fetuses found at funeral home were meant to be cremated in 2017, police say

The collection of 61 fetuses that were donated between 1981 and 1998 were meant to be cremated by the funeral home in 2017, but they never were.

POCATELLO, Idaho — Editor’s Note: Some details from the police investigation into a Pocatello funeral home may be upsetting to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

Idaho State University announced on Thursday that the dead fetuses that were found in a funeral home in Pocatello have been identified.

According to officials, the fetuses were identified as remains that were donated to Idaho State University as part of a collection that showed fetal development. Police learned that the collection was given to Downard Funeral Home for cremation back in April of 2017.

Idaho State learned during the investigation that the fetuses were never cremated.

The university reached out to Downard Funeral Home after the Idaho Legislature passed a bill that prohibited universities and public institutions from using stem cells or unborn infant remains, university officials explained in a press release. The collection, which contained 61 fetuses that were donated between 1981 and 1998, was deemed to be in violation of the law so Idaho State University reached out to the funeral home for cremation. 

In April 2017, Downard Funeral Home picked up the collection of fetuses. However, according to officials, ISU’s relationship with Downard ended in May 2020 after an internal audit found causes of concern. 

The university then filed complaints with the Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Pocatello Police Department and the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses. Idaho State said the audit did not find the fetuses were never cremated.

Earlier this week, the Pocatello Police Department said the remains of five dead bodies that were also found at the funeral home had been identified but another seven deceased individuals had yet to be identified.