Authorities have launched a death investigation after four bodies and "other remains" were discovered Wednesday evening inside a Chicago suburban home believed to be an off-the-books mortuary service. One family's attorney said they have spent years trying to retrieve their loved ones' remains.
At about 7:30 p.m., Illinois State Police crime scene investigators were called to a residence 13900 block of South Dearborn Street at the request of the Riverdale Police Department.
Illinois State Police said four bodies were found inside a garage at the home, while a spokesperson for the Cook County medical examiner said "other remains" were also located. The genders and ages of the bodies were not immediately known.
The bodies and remains were ordered to the medical examiner's office for examination and autopsies, officials said.
State police said Anton Godfrey had been storing bodies and human remains at their home as part of a mortuary service he was running out of his home. However, police said Godfrey died on August 29th.
Police said Godfrey had been the subject of multiple court orders to cease and desist running the in-home mortuary that was known as Living Waters.
NBC5 Investigates learned just two years ago, regulators with the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation found that Godfrey – doing business as “Living Waters Funeral Services” at an address on the 8100 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue – made funeral or cremation arrangements for 25 different decedents in a three-year period between 2009 and 2012 despite never having a license as a funeral director or embalmer.
The state ordered Godfrey to pay a $10,000 fine in that case. A department spokesman said Thursday that Godfrey never did pay the money.
NBC5 Investigates also found that Godfrey may have even mishandled the body of one of his own relatives. According to a state filing, Godfrey handled the cremation arrangements for a relative who died in 2012, and took possession of the body in March of 2012. However, the state said the body was not disposed of until six months later when the family finally got a licensed funeral director “to intervene and finalize the disposition of the body.”
The family of Pompey Hicks, who died nearly four years ago, filed a lawsuit last week against Living Waters, having not received remains from the off-the-books mortuary service.
The attorney for the family told NBC5 Investigates: “We don’t know if Mr. Hicks body or body parts had been found but I think this will assist us in the case.”
“The hicks had struggled with this for some time the fact that they’re loved ones remains had not been returned,” the attorney added.
One tombstones found on the property for a man named Anthony Bernard whose murder went unsolved brought up bad memories for his brother Michael.
"It's so sad cause we still don't know what happened to him and to bring this up, it's so sad," Michael said. "They should have been professional, not stuff scattered here and there."