“Noble, Ga., Feb. 16 – Every funeral director for 100 miles did business with the Tri-State Crematory on the assumption that the owners were doing their job of transforming dead bodies into ashes. But today, horrified authorities discovered decomposing evidence that the furnace at the crematory had not worked for years.”
They’ve discovered at least 120 rotting corpses in sheds and on the ground.
“Some of the bodies had been there for years and were nearly skeletal, while others, fresh from the funeral home, still bore toe tags.”
“Some bodies had become mummified and may have been at the site more than 20 years, said Dr. Kris Sperry, Georgia’s chief medical examiner. Nearly two dozen coffins that had once been buried were also found on the ground, Dr. Sperry said, and in some cases their embalmed contents had been dragged out and left exposed to the elements for years. It was unclear why those bodies were at the site.”
“The crematory’s manager, Ray Brent Marsh, 28, was charged with five counts of theft by deception and was in the county jail tonight. His parents, Ray and Clara Marsh, who own the business, were not charged.”
“Neva and Tim Mason, accountants who live in nearby La Fayette, were told on Friday night that the body of Mr. Mason’s father, Luther P. Mason, had been found.”
“W. E. McGill, who was the elected Walker County coroner for 23 years, until his retirement in 2000, said that Tri-State Crematory had operated illegally for a decade by not having a licensed funeral director on its premises during business hours, as required by a state law passed in 1992.”
Ok, this is getting weirder than, uh, hundreds of unburied corpses. We’ve got clear ghoulish activity with a Marsh family. Masons getting fooled. All this happened on the watch of a “son of Gill” (“I filed complaints, but nothing was ever done about it,” Mr. McGill said.) who was the authority responsible for *23* years.
Here’s an interesting point. The charge is fraud because there are no laws in Georgia against inappropriate treatment of corpses. If they had dug them up it would be a different story.
“We have laws against desecrating graves, but we can’t find one against desecration of bodies,” he said. “I guess nobody in the Legislature ever thought something like this could happen.”
The Marsh family, by the way, lived right next to the crematory.
“Mr. McGill said that Mr. and Mrs. Marsh had started out in the businesses of grave digging and burial vault supply, and that Tri-State had been the only crematory in the county when they founded it three decades ago. (The family lives next to the crematorium.) In those days, he said, a decision to cremate was rare.”
“Cremation was not popular down here until six or seven years ago,” Mr. McGill said, adding that the change ” has to do with the economy – it’s so much cheaper.”
Sheila Horton, the niece of the elder Ray Marsh, said greed was to blame for the ghoulish scene.
“His wife and son just didn’t want to spend the money to fix it up,” said Mrs. Horton, who grew up in Noble and now lives in Atlanta. “I don’t know how they could go to bed at night with all that outside their window.”
The crematorium’s legal status was unclear. Inspector John Henry Massey said Tri-State “is not licensed with the Georgia State Board of Funeral Services,” but would not elaborate.
James Neal, the funeral board chairman, said crematoriums that deal only with funeral homes and not with the public are not inspected by the state.
“If a crematorium is operating just for the sake of other funeral homes, then it wouldn’t be inspected,” Neal said. “That’s one of the quirks in the law.”
Hmmmmm. I wonder how many other states (and countries) have loopholes like that?