Morgue contractor who worked scene of dead Huron TWP resident’s house arrested for breaking and entering the same house on following day

Detroit residents Carnell Lamont Franklin-Smith, 34, and Benjamin Ulysses Pearce, 29, were arrested and charged with home invasion by the Wayne County Persecutor’s Office during an arraignment on Feb. 17. (Booking photos provided)

By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub

Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2023

A contractor working with the Wayne County Morgue was arrested Feb. 15 after he and an accomplice allegedly returned to the house of a dead Huron Township resident and burglarized the property.

Detroit residents Carnell Lamont Franklin-Smith, 34, and Benjamin Ulysses Pearce, 29, were arrested and charged with home invasion by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office during an arraignment on Feb. 17.

“It is believed that Franklin-Smith used his position of employment to victimize the families of the deceased. With intimate knowledge that a resident was deceased as well as knowing if other family members lived at a particular residence, I believe there are many other victims out there. He told investigators that he operated a business he called “No Evidence” that allowed him to return to scenes he previously worked for clean-up. I believe that was used as an opportunity to commit crimes like this one. We are asking anyone that may have had a family member’s residence broken into following their death to notify the police agency where they live,” said Everette Robbins, director of public safety.

On Feb. 15 at 9:32 a.m., the Huron Township Department of Public Safety received a 911 call in reference to a breaking and entering that was in progress in the 22000 block of Castelle Drive.

The 911 caller told emergency dispatch that there were two black men that were forcing their way into the house. The Huron Township Police Department patrol and traffic services units responded to the area. While in route to the scene the caller gave a description of the suspect vehicle and that the suspects fled from the house with items from inside.

At 9:39 a.m., the suspects were located by police. While Officers were getting Franklin-Smith out of the car, he stated he had a firearm on him. Officers searched him and located a loaded handgun in a black holster.

Several items inside the vehicle where in plain view and appeared to be stolen.

Several items recovered from the scene of the home invasion were found inside the suspect’s vehicle, police said.

The day before, police conducted a death investigation at the same house where the break-in occurred. The dead person at the house was determined to have died of natural causes. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office was contacted to assist in the investigation for transportation of the remains to the Wayne County Morgue.

Police said Franklin-Smith entered the location and assisted in removing the body as part of his employment. The investigation revealed that Franklin-Smith worked for a company who is contracted by the Wayne County Morgue for removal of remains from houses to then be transported to the Wayne County Morgue. 

Photographs taken by the Huron Township Detective Bureau of the death investigation scene on Feb. 14 confirmed that items found inside the suspect’s vehicle on Feb.15 matched items pictured in the victim’s residence the day prior.

“I am thankful for the in-depth work by our Detective Bureau during the death investigation which led to having crucial evidence proving multiple items were stolen from within the decedent’s residence. I am also thankful that our members of our Traffic Services Unit were able to quickly respond following the initial 911 call and quickly locate and arrest the suspects before they were able to flee,” Robbins said. “It’s so unfortunate that those trusted to respectfully transport a deceased person following their death would betray that trust. Our hearts go out to the family that has to deal with this in addition to losing their loved one,” Robbins said.

In addition to home invasion charges, Franklin-Smith was also booked on felony firearms charges in relation to the handgun found on him.

Both suspects were released after posting a $10,000 bond.


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