JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Friday, Johnstown Police Department (JPD) executed a search warrant at the Ehle-Barnett Funeral home on William Street after attempts for several weeks were made by a family to recover the remains of their loved one. JPD says the search warrant revealed human remains within the funeral home not stored in temperature-controlled locations and were not cared for in any manner.
According to a report On January 10, JPD was contacted by a family who had contracted cremation services with the funeral home. The family had been attempting to contact the funeral homeowner, Brian M. Barnett, however, he would not return any calls.
After multiple attempts to reach him, Barnett later contacted Police. Barnett then told Detectives that he still had the human remains at the funeral home and no services had been completed in several weeks. Police said they were able to turn over those remains to the A.G. Cole Funeral home for proper services.
Through further investigation with the assistance of the New York State Bureau of Funeral Directors, police learned that Barnett’s license to practice as a funeral director had been suspended since late November 2021. Police said they also discovered that the Ehle-Barnett Funeral Home was not licensed to conduct any funeral services, store, or handle any deceased persons.
Police say during their search warrant investigation they located human remains within the funeral home with signs of advanced decomposition, due to the improper handling and storage. Detectives observed a significant amount of garbage and excess furniture stored around the remains and in the garage.
A further search by police located two additional human remains in the garage, both in advanced states of decomposition. Both persons appeared to have been in the garage for a substantial amount of time they say.
A dozen containers of cremated remains were also discovered with some containers not listing the identification of the individual. Several containers that did not have a visible identification tag were left open.
As the investigation continued, Detectives learned of another deceased person, who had been retrieved by Barnett in late 2021. The death records indicated this individual had been cremated however, the crematorium listed on the death certificate had no record of cremation completed.
Investigators said the identification of all the human remains is being handled by the Fulton County Coroner’s Office in conjunction with the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Unit. The coroner’s office along with JPD will reach out to families of the persons recovered, as they are formally identified.
Police ask If families have had services with the Ehle-Barnett funeral home and have not received the remains of their loved ones, they can contact the Fulton County Coroner’s Office or the Johnstown Police Department. They say family members should have the date, time, and location of when their loved one passed away to enable the identification.