Tags: Remains | Found | Crematory | Operator's | Home

Remains Found at Crematory Operator's Home

Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:00 AM

Authorities said they have recovered 149 bodies from the grounds of Tri-State Crematorium. The total does not include more than 100 bodies found in concrete vaults or the remains found at the nearby home of Ray Brent Marsh.

Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said he could not explain why the bodies had been improperly disposed of.

"That's the million-dollar question, I guess, is why did this happen?" he said.

Investigators said they were looking into Marsh's purchase of 1,000-gallon septic tanks. "Four had been installed on the property," Wilson said. Permits had been requested for several others.

More than a dozen Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents who had gone to Marsh's home to execute a search warrant for business records discovered a body in a coffin in the backyard.

Assistant GBI Director Vernon Keenan said agents then found bodies and body parts buried under several mounds in Marsh's yard. Workers used a backhoe to remove the coffin and dug into pits estimated to be eight feet deep.

More coffins and remains were found Tuesday on the 16-acre grounds of the crematory, about 90 miles northwest of Atlanta. Officials plan to search a nearby lake using an underwater infrared camera.

Dr. Kris Sperry, Georgia state medical examiner, said 27 of the bodies recovered so far have been identified. He said some relatives were given urns that contained concrete dust or potting soil instead of the ashes of loved ones.

"There's nobody here that's not sickened by this," Walker County Coroner Dewayne Wilson said. "There are other remains out there, and it's well over 200."

Marsh is being held in the Walker County Jail on 16 felony counts of theft by deception. No court hearing has been scheduled because he does not have an attorney, Walker County District Attorney Buzz Franklin Jr. said.

The sheriff said additional charges are likely, possibly against Marsh's parents. "If it goes back 10, 15 or 20 years ... certainly another family member would have to have been involved," he said.

Two lawsuits seeking class-action status were filed Tuesday in Georgia and Tennessee.

"This is awful," said Bob Vandenbergh, president of National Funeral Directors Association, who traveled to the crematory site to offer assistance to families.

"The discovery made at Tri-State is an atrocity. Our members uniformly condemn the unimaginable practices carried out by that crematory, whose owners are not licensed funeral directors," the association said in a statement.

A counselor from the Georgia Department of Human Resources said family members "feel violated" by the discoveries.

"They entrusted their loved ones to a funeral home. Now they don't know if the ashes and the remains they have are the person they think it is," Ann Davies said.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Authorities said they have recovered 149 bodies from the grounds of Tri-State Crematorium. The total does not include more than 100 bodies found in concrete vaults or the remains found at the nearby home of Ray Brent Marsh. Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said he could...
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2002-00-19
Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:00 AM
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