Saturday, March 02, 2002

About that Georgia crematorium...
Jay Zilber wonders why the blogosphere hasn't latched onto this. If you haven't heard (and how is that possible?), the Tri-State Crematory in Walker County, Georgia (just south of Chattanooga, serving funeral homes in northwest Georgia, northeast Alabama, and south-central Tennessee) is the center of what has become an national story, bordering on international -- and it just gets stranger every day.

Apparently, the actual oven itself hasn't worked in... well, nobody knows how long. And nobody would have known about it, but that a woman walking her dog nearby stumbled onto a human skull.

It's getting to the point that every mound of dirt you stick a shovel in, every closet or crypt you open, you find more bodies -- bodies that were sent to Tri-State for cremation and never cremated. The count is up to 339 as of yesterday, according to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, of which 82 have been identified. They're getting ready to drain the nearby lake, and nobody is guessing what they'll find.

Families are having their urns tested, and discovering that they contain cement dust. Or worse, they contain human remains -- but the body of their loved one was discovered more-or-less intact on the crematory grounds, so who's in the urn?

I would think that the gas company could check its metering records and deduce when the crematory stopped working, but no such announcement has been made. Perhaps it's covered under the gag order. It's darned conspicuous in its absence.

The General Assembly (the State House) has discovered to their chagrin that mishandling a corpse as such isn't against the law. The owner of the crematorium is facing two misdemeanor charges of fraud per identified body: One for accepting money for a service never performed, and one for misrepresenting the contents of the urns being returned to the families. Which is to say he'd get off pretty light if there were only one or two bodies...

What was he thinking? Nobody knows. Maybe he was preparing a diorama of downtown Noble, Ga. Maybe he wanted to collect the set.

Aside from the mounting numbers of bodies, how can this story get worse?

Now, I ask you: Does this sound like a bloggable topic?

LATER: I guess it does. Cut on the Bias asks, "Where are the articles on the family?" That's certainly a valid question, since some reports claim that some of these bodies pre-date Ray Marsh's taking over the business (though that's not said as clearly as I just said it). That question, too, is oddly and conspicuously not asked, along with the "How long has this been going on?" issue.

As incredible as it seems based on what we've heard so far, I have a sick feeling we haven't heard the half of it yet.

LATER YET: Honesty compels me to report that Fritz Schranck of Sneaking Suspicions was there first.

MUCH LATER YET: What do you mean, the incinerator isn't broken?

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