HAYWARD, Calif. (KRON) — Six bodies and 154 cremated remains were found in a California warehouse earlier this month, prompting investigators to seek out the families of the deceased.
The bodies and the remains, discovered on March 1 in the Hayward warehouse, are linked to Oceanview Cremations, a crematorium that had its business license suspended five years ago, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said.
The company’s license was suspended back in March 2018, at which time Oceanview Cremations was also prohibited from storing remains on its premises. But the California Cemetery and Funeral Board informed the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau on Feb. 28, 2023, that the business was continuing its operations.
The following day, investigators with the bureau went to the warehouse and recovered the remains, which were taken in by Oceanview Cremations in 2020 and 2021. Five of the bodies were identified. One could not be identified, however, because Oceanview Cremations owner Robert Smith did not produce “viable information” about the location of death or next of kin, per the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities contacted the families of the people whose bodies were discovered. Those families later explained that their previous calls to Smith, about their deceased relatives, had been going unanswered. Some said they assumed the remains had been cremated or scattered at sea as requested.
A Yelp page for Oceanview Cremations is littered with poor reviews. One person claimed Smith took her money and did not respond to more than 100 emails and daily phone calls. The woman alleged that Smith called her back after seven months, blaming his lack of response on contracting COVID-19.
“If you are crazy enough to support this business be ready to be angry, confused, gaslit, and lied to, also make sure you research the other reviews,” the Yelp user said.
The coroner’s bureau took possession of two of the bodies discovered in the warehouse, and a county-contracted funeral home took the other four, as well as the 154 cremated remains.
The funeral home sorted the cremated remains and determined that they came from multiple California counties:
- Alameda County (64)
- San Francisco County (23)
- San Mateo County (15)
- Contra Costa County (10)
- Santa Clara County (9)
- Marin County (9)
- Sonoma County (8)
- Santa Cruz County (4)
- San Joaquin County (3)
- Solano County (2)
- Napa County (2)
- Stanislaus County (2)
- Fresno County (1)
- Sacramento County (1)
- Placer County (1)
Any family who used the services of Oceanview Cremations between 2013 and 2022 and is uncertain about the whereabouts of their loved one’s remains is asked to call the coroner’s bureau of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office at (510) 382-3000.