Stench leads police to 3 bodies in N. Phila. garage

Philadelphia police were called to a small warehouse on 2600 block of W. Hagert Street in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. The van in background was brought in to remove bodies discovered inside a warehouse. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)

Police responding to a 911 call about a foul odor on a North Philadelphia block opened a garage there to find three decomposing bodies Tuesday morning.

Police said two bodies were found in boxes and one found in a casket in the garage, on the 2600 block of West Hagert Street in the city’s Strawberry Mansion section. Investigators traced the corpses to a funeral home around the corner. The funeral home's owner, identified by neighbors as Janet Powell, told police she was aware of the bodies in the garage, police said.

Approached by reporters as she walked to her car to retrieve papers Tuesday afternoon, Powell declined comment. She sat on a stoop next to the garage as a van wheeled up to the curb to collect the bodies.

The odor on the block was palpable as detectives from the Central division blocked off the street, and neighbors gathered to watch the activity.

Police said the identities of the bodies were not yet known. A law enforcement source said police were investigating abuse of a corpse allegations, and said it appeared the bodies had been left in the garage.

Neighbors said Powell and her mother had run a neighborhood funeral home for years, and had buried many of their relatives. They said they were shocked by the discovery, and described her as a "good woman" who helped those who could not pay for funeral services.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.