Dozens of Bodies Found in Front of Flatlands Funeral Home

A coffin and bottles of bleach in the back of a U-Haul truck outside Andrew T. Cleckley’s Funeral Home, 2037A Utica Avenue in Flatlands. Photo by Ariama Long.

Dozens of decomposing bodies in two U-Haul Trucks emitting noxious odors along Utica Avenue were discovered outside a Flatlands funeral home yesterday.

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Flatlands, Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Ocean Hill) said she was alerted of the grisly scene yesterday morning from constituents who called her district office complaining of a foul odor and fluids coming out of the two rental trucks outside the Andrew T. Cleckley’s Funeral Home, 2037A Utica Avenue.

Persaud said she called the local 63rd Police Precinct and was told there were two officers already on the scene. She then proceeded to call the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene DOHMH), the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs about the dilemma and they all took immediate action.

A spokesperson for the funeral home could not be reached for comment, but outside the scene on a rainy Wednesday, neighborhood locals expressed dismay.

“Yesterday there was a smell,” said Harry Thompson, a bystander who lives around the corner. He said that the trucks were so full they started to leak blood and that people had been calling about this issue for some time.

Henry Lee, who works at the laundromat two doors down, provided KCP with a video he recorded on his cell phone on April 20. The short clip shows two men moving a body underneath a heavy white sheet into a truck in front of the store. 

Other residents passing by or watching from a safe distance expressed shock, curiosity, and frustration at the unfolding situation.

The scene outside Andrew T. Cleckley’s Funeral Home, 2037A Utica Avenue where dozens of bodies were discovered in rental trucks yesterday. Photo by Ariama Long.

Cleckley’s is a center that preps and embalms bodies as a support for the many other funeral homes in the area.

OEM and local police worked together with staff at the funeral home over the course of hours to transfer the bodies from the trucks today, confirmed a Neighborhood Coordination Officer (NCO) on the scene. 

Trucks and vans would back up into the makeshift tent that covered most of the activity, a gurney could be seen rolled up to the trunks, and then the vehicle would leave the quarantined area with a funeral director or associate that had presumably come to reclaim a body. 

Two large refrigeration trailers were also parked outside the business’ location.

To avoid any kind of contamination officers rerouted traffic completely and blocked off the entire section of Utica Avenue from Avenue L to M.

Away from the blockade a U-Haul truck, containing a pink coffin, a suit, bleach bottles, among other things, could be seen parked on the street.

The discovery came as the city has been reeling from COVID-19- related deaths, leaving city morgues, funeral directors and nursing homes swamped with the dead.  

As of April 28, there have been over 3,000 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths in Brooklyn. 

But Persaud said there is no excuse for Cleckley’s treating the human remains of loved ones so callously.

“When this funeral director decided to take a body from a private home, a hospital or from wherever they knew their capacity. If you’re bringing in U-Hauls to store bodies you know you’re overcapacity,” said Persaud.

“There should be criminal charges brought against them. They should be held accountable. What a horrible thing to do to the families of loved ones,” she added.

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