The discovery this month of six human bodies and dozens of cremated remains stored illegally inside of a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse has prompted a dauting task: to reunite them with their respective next of kin.
While five of the bodies were successfully identified, the public’s help is needed to establish the name of the sixth person and to reunite families with the 154 cremated remains found at the facility, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California said.
The remains were being stored by Oceanview Cremations in a warehouse in Hayward, officials said. The crematorium’s business license was suspended in March 2018, but the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau said it only learned last month from the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau that Oceanview had continued to operate and was keeping remains in an “unauthorized” facility.
On March 1, the state funeral bureau and a funeral home contracted by Alameda County went to the warehouse, according to authorities, leading to the identification of five of the bodies.
Oceanview owner Robert Smith was unable to provide “viable information” to identify the sixth body, but they are believed to be from Sonoma County, officials said. Family members of the deceased told authorities they initially tried to contact Smith about their loved ones, but when they never heard back, they assumed they were either cremated or scattered at sea as requested.
All of the deceased were received sometime in 2020 or 2021, while the cremated remains were received from 2013 to 2021 and originated from more than a dozen counties throughout Northern California, authorities said.
The funeral home that took possession of the cremated remains declined to comment Monday.
It was unclear why Oceanview’s business license was suspended in 2018, and the state funeral bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs did not immediately return requests for comment Monday. Efforts to reach Smith were also unsuccessful.