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'All families' of 35 bodies found in Hull funeral home now contacted, police say

Police outside the Hessle Road branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (PA)
Police outside the Hessle Road branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (PA)

All families of the 35 people whose bodies have been found at a funeral parlour are believed to have now been contacted, say police who are investigating the incident.

Legacy Independent Funeral Directors has been under investigation after officers recovered the bodies, as well as suspected human ashes, at its site on Hessle Road in Hull.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the incident, but have been released on bail.

Over 1,500 calls have been made to police by former Legacy Independent Funeral Directors customers since the major probe began a week ago, Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin said on Friday.

Humberside Police said detectives have been working “around the clock” since concerns were raised on March 8 about “the storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased” at the funeral directors.

ACC McLoughlin said: “ can confirm that whilst formal identification procedures are ongoing, we do believe we have contacted all families of the 35 deceased.

“My specialist trained officers continue to support the families involved at this extremely difficult time whilst lengthy inquiries are ongoing.”

Formal identification of the deceased took place at Hull’s city mortuary.

Senior investigating officers from Humberside Police are working with “specialist experts” and advisors from the National Crime Agency (NCA) to confirm if human ashes have been uncovered as well.

A 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position.

Flowers and candles laid outside a branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (AFP via Getty Images)
Flowers and candles laid outside a branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (AFP via Getty Images)

They have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Police said specialist search teams finished going through the premises on Thursday but a cordon is still in place on Hessle Road.

ACC McLoughlin asked people not to speculate and “show the utmost respect for bereaved families”.

“This has truly been an awful incident and the families are understandably distraught and have many questions, and we are doing everything we possibly can to give them the answers they deserve,” he added.

“This is an extremely complex and sensitive investigation, and we are continuing to work with the His Majesty’s Coroner, Hull City and East Riding Council.”

Grieving families have spoken of their torment after learning their loved ones are reportedly among those discovered at the funeral home.

One woman, who asked not to be identified, told the Guardian her grandmother had died in November last year and was supposed to have been cremated after a funeral service the following month.

She had collected what she believed to be her grandmother’s ashes in February and placed some in an urn in her living room, and others in a “memorial corner” in her garden.

An investigation is taking place into Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (PA Wire)
An investigation is taking place into Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (PA Wire)

But officers informed her that they had recovered a female body with her grandmother’s name on a tag at the Hessle Road funeral home.

She told the Guardian: “I’m disgusted. I feel physically sick… I’ve got someone’s ashes which I don’t even know if it’s grandmother or not. We paid £1,799 [for the funeral service] and we don’t even know if she was in the coffin.”

This week, another woman said she believes she kissed an empty coffin at her father’s funeral.

Billie-Jo Suffill, a 33-year-old mother-of-three from Hull, said she felt “physically sick” after not receiving her father’s ashes.

She lost 52-year-old Andrew Suffill in July 2022, and her brother Dwane Suffill, 34, five days later.

Recalling her father’s funeral, she told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “I bet my dad was not even in the coffin – it was an empty coffin.

“I was kissing an empty coffin. When I think about it, it is disgusting. It’s like something out of a horror movie.

“I wonder if this will stop at 35 bodies. I think my dad is one of them.”

Legacy Independent Funeral Directors is owned by Robert Bush, according to Companies House.

Humberside Police said those who are concerned about the alleged incident are encouraged to contact its Major Incident Portal.