Bodies found in garage, storage unit after funeral home director commits suicide
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNN) — Alfred Pennine, longtime proprietor of Pennine Funeral Home in Providence, R.I., may have taken a secret to his grave.
After Pennine committed suicide last month, another funeral director found six bodies in a garage detached from the Pennine Funeral Home, according to Providence Police Maj. David Lapatin.
This week, a man found the bodies of two adults and an infant in a storage unit previously rented to Pennine in nearby Johnston, according to Johnston Police Maj. Frank Levesque.
Investigators suspect that Pennine was telling families their loved ones had been buried or cremated, but then not following through and instead keeping the cremation and burial fees, Lapatin said.
Authorities are asking owners of storage units across the state to look through their records to see if they rented to Pennine or whether anything suspicious has been found inside, Lapatin said.
After Pennine committed suicide in July, another funeral director took the body to the Pennine funeral home and discovered five corpses and a fetus in a detached garage, Lapatin said.
The funeral home was shut down by the local health department, Lapatin said.
A man on Thursday discovered the bodies of two adults and an infant in the Johnston storage unit.
One adult body was found in a cremation box while another was in a standard coffin, Levesque said. The baby was in what funeral homes often refer to as “infant carriers,” or a smaller coffin.
The adults were so decomposed the gender could not be identified, Levesque said. The infant was believed to be a female.
The bodies were found by a man who had purchased the unit, which was auctioned because there was no payment on it for six months, Levesque said.
Authorities are not sure of the motive but suspect it was financial.
Lapatin said that in some instances, relatives of a dead person were given ashes after a supposed cremation when the remains were still in the funeral home garage.
The funeral home was not authorized to handle cremations on site. The bodies were brought to another location, where a fee was paid for cremation, Lapatin said.
“It looks like he said he was cremating the bodies and then pocketing the money,” Lapatin said.
Lapatin would not say if other funeral directors were being investigated but added that charges could be filed later.
“The scope is a lot wider than Mr. Pennine,” Lapatin said.
Pennine’s brother told CNN affiliate WJAR the family had no comment.
In July, Boston police discovered human remains in a storage facility belonging to a former Massachusetts funeral director after obtaining a search warrant for unrelated charges on the director, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.