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ISU recently ended cadaver contract with funeral home due to ‘multiple causes’ of concern

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POCATELLO — The funeral home in Pocatello currently being investigated by police was contracted to provide Idaho State University with cadavers but the partnership recently ended due to problems.

In a statement provided to EastIdahoNews.com, ISU spokesman Stuart Summers outlined the former partnership.

“Idaho State University had a longstanding relationship with Downard Funeral Home to receive anatomical donations,” the statement says. “During multi-year periods between 2011 and 2017, Downard failed to provide anatomical donations to the University. Due to a lack of donations, Idaho State ended its relationship with Downward in May 2020.”

Upon reaching a partnership with a different local funeral home, ISU notified all families who had filed an intent-to-donate form of the change.

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During the process, Summers say ISU learned some of those families believed the remains of their loved ones had already been donated.

“The University had no record of receiving the donations,” the statement says.

Following an internal audit of all records and dealings with Downard, which “indicated multiple causes for concern,” ISU filed formal complaints with the Bannock County Prosecutors Office, Pocatello Police and Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses.

The audit was launched in the fall of 2020 and complaints were filed this spring.

“Idaho State University has been proactive, ongoing, and cooperative in discussions with state agencies and local law enforcement,” The statement reads.

Crews from Pocatello Fire and EMS arrived at Downard Thursday night, following reports of a foul stench emanating from the building. Pocatello police officers served a search warrant Friday morning, methodically removing bodies from inside the facility to a refrigerated trailer provided by the Ada County Coroner’s Office.

RELATED | Officials confirm funeral home investigation centers around report of decomposing body

Some of the bodies have been positively identified and moved to other funeral homes in Pocatello, according to a news release from Pocatello Police. Bodies that have not yet been identified are in the custody of the Bannock County Coroner. Officers continue to determine the number of bodies being held in the building.

“We understand the concerns and frustrations of the families of the deceased during this time and thank them for their patience while officers work to complete the investigation,” a police news release says.

Family members with questions and concerns have been asked to appoint one contact person and have them call Pocatello Police at (208) 234-6100.

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