Cement replaces ashes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Features Editor

Like legions of people all across the country, Marv Dillard, one of the owners of Dillard Funeral Home of Troy, is puzzled and sickened by the discovery of bodies at a crematory in northwest Georgia.

According to reports from Kris Sperry, Georgia’s chief medical examiner, the grounds of the crematory in Noble may hold as many as 200 bodies left unburied and not cremated by the facility’s operator.

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"This is the sickest thing I’ve heard of in a long time," Dillard said. "I don’t know how anything like this could happen. Bodies are not supposed to be transported across state lines unless they are embalmed. Unless these bodies, were embalmed before they were sent to the crematory from other states – they were being transported illegally. So, maybe they were embalmed." However, Dillard said most cremations are performed without the body being embalmed.

"From what I read in the newspaper, some of the containers that were sent back to the families with the ashes contained powdered cement," Dillard said. "Here, the ashes are returned to us in a temporary box and we transfer them to an urn at the family’s request. I think I would have known if cement was in a box I opened."

Dillard said the crematory was privately owned and, undoubtedly, not open to the public.

"How the people in that community weren’t aware of decomposing bodies though, I don’t know," he said.

While the funeral industry is state regulated, crematories are not, Dillard said.

"In the South, crematories are fairly new and, therefore, they have minimal standards of operation. The operator said the facility’s incinerator had not been working for some time. I suppose, if he was not doing what he was being paid to do, his profit margin was greatly increased."

Dillard said what the owner of Noble facility did was unthinkable and inexcusable.

"They need to lock him up and throw away the key," he said.

Reports that bodies had been shipped to the Georgia facility from states including Alabama have caused some concern by residents whose loved ones have been cremated.

"Dillard Funeral Home uses very reputable crematories in Dothan and Montgomery," Dillard said. "The crematories are connected to funeral homes, so the possibility of anything like this happening is zero."

According to news reports from CNN, Ray Brent Marsh, 28, the son of the crematory’s owners, was arrested Sunday and charged with theft by deception after authorities discovered about 120 unburied bodies and body parts in sheds and strewn on the crematory grounds.

Authorities were alerted to the site Friday by a woman who was walking her dog and found a human skull.