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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 15:08 GMT
Crematorium owner gets 12 years
Ray Marsh
Marsh admitted the charges
The owner of a US crematorium who left bodies to decay in the grounds of his property has been sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Ray Marsh, who operated the Tri-State Crematory in north-west Georgia, dumped 334 bodies behind his house and crammed them into burial vaults.

He gave cement dust to relatives instead of ashes.

He admitted 787 charges, including theft, abusing a corpse, burial service fraud and making false statements.

Relatives of some of those whose bodies Marsh dumped confronted him in court for more than six hours late on Monday.

"How did you eat and sleep knowing the bodies were in the back-yard?" asked Letha Shropshire, whose mother's body was supposed to have been cremated.

Natasha Mann told him: "You may not have killed my father, but a part of my heart died when you put his body in a vault with 20 others."

Marsh responded: "I can't give you the answers that you want, but I can apologise," he said, before promising to write a letter of apology to all the families.

Plea deal

Agreeing with the terms of a plea deal, Judge James Bodiford sentenced Marsh to 12 years in prison, to be followed by a lengthy period of probation and a $20,000 fine.

When the sentence was handed down, Marsh said: "I will not cry when I go into my jail cell. I will not whimper. I will accept my punishment. I will do my time."

Some relatives came from as far away as Indiana and Michigan to give evidence in court.

Relatives have reached an $80m civil settlement with Marsh, though it is unclear how much of that will ever be paid.

A lawsuit against funeral homes that sent bodies to Marsh's crematorium was settled for $36m, and much of that has been paid.

Marsh, 31, also pleaded guilty to related charges in Tennessee and received a 12-year sentence to run concurrently with the Georgia sentence.

Corpses scandal at US crematorium
17 Feb 02 |  Americas
More grim finds at US crematorium
25 Feb 02 |  Americas
Identifying skeletons in Georgia
26 Feb 02 |  Science/Nature

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