The cremated remains of 154 people and another six bodies were recovered earlier this month from a warehouse in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward, authorities announced Friday. All the remains are linked to a Hayward mortuary which had its license suspended back in 2018, officials said.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office reported that the bodies and cremated remains were recovered from the warehouse by the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau on March 1. All are connected to Oceanview Cremations and are believed to be individuals who were received by the funeral home between 2013 and 2021, the sheriff’s office said.
Five of the six recovered bodies have been identified, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The owner of Oceanview Cremations, Robert Smith, has been unable to identify the sixth body, which came from Sonoma County, the sheriff’s office said, stating that Smith was “not able to produce any viable information about the location of death or the next of kin.” All six decedents were received by Oceanview in 2020 and 2021, the release said.
Lt. Tya Modeste, a sheriff’s office spokesperson, told CBS News Saturday that, so far, the identities of four of the 154 cremated individuals have been confirmed by family members.
All 154 cremated remains had been tagged and labeled, Modeste added.
Modeste disclosed that one of the four family members who contacted the sheriff’s office believed he already possessed his father’s cremated remains. However, cremated remains identified as his father were listed among those found in the warehouse, Modeste said.
“We don’t know whose ashes he has,” Modeste told CBS News.
The sheriff’s office said that Oceanview had both a corporate license and an individual license under the same name. Its business license was suspended in 2018, the sheriff’s office said. However, it continued to operate under its individual license through January of this year, they said.
According to the sheriff’s office, the coroner’s bureau was not notified of Oceanview’s 2018 suspension until Feb. 28 by the California Cemetery and Funeral Board.
The board also noted that the Hayward warehouse that Oceanview was using was not authorized to store remains, the sheriff’s office said.
Anyone who utilized Oceanview Cremations services between 2013 and 2022 is asked to contact the coroner’s bureau at 510-382-3000.
CBS News reached out to Oceanview Cremations owner Robert Smith for comment, but did not immediately hear back.