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Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 10:42 GMT
Shock and fury at crematorium discovery
Neva Mason, right, talks with a policeman
Neva Mason's father in law was found stacked in a barn
Disbelief and anger have been expressed at the discovery of at least 80 decomposed bodies at a crematorium in Georgia in the United States.

Relatives of some of those whose bodies have already been identified gathered at a church near the Tri-State crematorium in Noble, some 135 kilometres (85 miles) north-west of Atlanta, to compare horror stories and comfort each other.

You just would never think something like this could happen here - it's a little bitty town

Britt Simmons
The operator of the crematorium, Ray Brent Marsh, 28, has been arrested and charged for fraud - in the absence of any state laws prohibiting the desecration of corpses.

Marshall Wilson, whose brother, Joseph Patrick Wilson was believed to be among the corpses, was angry.

"I'd just like to get a hold of that guy," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, referring to Mr Marsh.

Call for justice

Thomas Ware, who has been living nearby for about six years said he never noticed any signs that bodies were not being handled properly.

He said he was worried that his uncle, who died about two years ago and was sent to Tri-State for cremation, was never cremated.

"Somebody better be going to jail," his girlfriend, Britt Simmons, said.

Map of Georgia
"You just would never think something like this could happen here. It's a little bitty town. But anywhere this happened it would be horrible."

The body of Luther Mason, who died in December, was one of the first discovered. His son, Tim Mason, expressed his shock.

"I just can't imagine," said Tim Mason, 53, of La Fayette.

"I mean I can see... getting a few days behind, [but] months, years? I just can't imagine anyone doing that," Mr Mason said.

He said he hoped the body of his mother, who died in 1995 and was sent to the same crematorium, would not be found too.

'Worse than dying'

Tim Mason's wife, Neva, said the family had held a ceremony at the cemetery.

"He was stacked in a barn," Mrs Mason was quoted by the New York Times as saying.

I've got someone in an urn, or something - I don't know what

Lisa Cash
"We don't know if he was stacked on top of people or with people stacked on top of him. We don't know if he was wearing clothes. I don't know what's worse, him dying, or this," she said.

Officials said families who believed they had received the ashes of their loved ones, had actually been given wood chips mixed with dirt and other material.

Lisa Cash of Chattanooga told the Journal-Constitution she had been given an urn which she had believed contained her mother's ashes.

She said: "I've got someone in an urn, or something. I don't know what."

See also:

17 Feb 02 | Americas
Corpses scandal at US crematorium
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