Officials confirm funeral home investigation centers around report of decomposing body
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POCATELLO — The city of Pocatello has confirmed an investigation at Downard Funeral Home and Crematory was started after a decomposing body was reportedly found at the funeral home.
Law enforcement arrived at the funeral home at 241 North Garfield Avenue Thursday to investigate what they called “suspicious circumstances,” according to Pocatello city spokesman Logan McDougall. The funeral home is now closed until further notice.
A large contingent of law enforcement remained at the funeral home Friday, and Pocatello Police have confirmed they have a search warrant for the building and are actively searching the premises.
In addition to local police, the Bannock County Coroner Office and Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office, there are also investigators with the Idaho Board of Occupational Licenses, the Ada County Coroner’s Office and Southeastern Idaho Public Health at the scene, according to a news release.
Jillian Jamieson, spokeswoman for the Ada County Coroner’s Office, confirms their office sent a refrigeration truck to the funeral home for body transportation. The request was made by the Bannock County Coroner Office.
EastIdahoNews.com reporters have observed people in hazmat gear enter and leave the funeral home. Additionally, investigators appear to have taken at least one body to the refrigeration truck. There has been a great deal of activity in and around the truck Friday morning.
EastIdahoNews.com spoke with residents at the scene who report there has been a foul smell coming from the building for several months.
Police have closed a section of West Lander Street from Hayes Avenue to North Garfield Avenue as part of the investigation. Pocatello High School parking lots near the funeral home have also been closed.
EastIdahoNews.com spoke with the father and aunt of a deceased person inside the funeral home. They said after they paid for the funeral they had a hard time reaching management.
City officials say if any family members of deceased individuals at the funeral home have questions or concerns, they should appoint one point of contact to call the Pocatello Police Department at (208) 234-6100 and leave a name and phone number. Officers will return their call when more information is available.
Law enforcement is asking the public to avoid the area out of respect for family members.
The owner of the funeral home is Lance R. Peck. EastIdahoNews.com could not reach him for comment Friday. Public records show Peck and Downard Funeral Home and Crematory have a history of being disciplined by the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses.
EastIdahoNews.com has a reporter at the scene. We will publish more information as it is released.