CHICAGO (CBS) — A funeral home in Gary, Indiana, was explaining why the remains of two unidentified babies were stored in the facility for nearly two decades, and denying published reports the bodies were improperly stored in a ceiling for two years.

Sean Howard, spokesman for Smith, Bizzell, Warner & Son Golden Rule Funeral Home said the remains had been stored at the funeral home for 17 years, through three different owners, and insisted they were stored properly. He also said there is no truth to newspaper reports the remains had been stored in a ceiling in the morgue for two years. He said it was only a matter of hours.

Howard said an employee removed the remains from a secure cabinet where they were stored, and put them in the ceiling of the morgue last September. Howard said a manager quickly discovered what the employee had done.

“The manager came into the area, to the morgue area, and saw a ladder where this gentleman was responsible for it. He was responsible for the morgue, and obviously it raised eyebrows to her, and that’s when he admitted to the manager ‘I put the babies in the ceiling.’ That employee is no longer here,” Howard said.

Howard did not explain why the employee moved the babies’ remains.

“This is a matter to which we regret. This is not our reputation. We’ve been a helping hand to this particular community. This is an isolated incident. The individual no longer works here,” Howard said. “We want to sort of rid those erroneous reports that I’ve seen in some newspapers, where this particular individual stored these particular fetuses in a ceiling for over two years. That’s just absolutely not true.”

Over the years, the funeral home made multiple efforts to identify the remains, including after the coroner’s office was informed about the bodies being moved to the ceiling.

“After exhausting the search, and working with the coroner’s office, the coroner’s staff came to the funeral home on yesterday to remove the remains,” Howard said.

Gary police said one of the bodies is a boy, but the gender of the other infant has not yet been determined. The Lake County Coroner’s office is calling them simply Baby Boy Doe and Baby Doe.

Howard said the funeral home used to store unidentified human remains in the building, in the hopes of eventually receiving information leading to a name and proper burial.

The coroner’s office has said it was first informed about the baby’s bodies several months ago. She advised funeral officials to contact local and state officials to attempt to identify the babies, but when those efforts failed, that is when the police were called in Wednesday,

The funeral home has not been accused of wrongdoing.

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