Large Number of Decomposing Bodies Found At Crematory

  • Saturday, February 16, 2002

Dozens of bodies were discovered on Friday by Walker County authorities at a crematory just north of LaFayette, Ga.

Sheriff Steve Wilson called in a number of agencies to help in the investigation after the bizarre discovery.

Those at the scene of the Tristate Crematory at the community of Noble included the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Officials said body parts were first found in woods near the crematorium, then a large number of decomposing bodies were found in a building.

The crematory operated by the Marsh family is on Highway 27, three miles north of Lafayette. Owners are listed as Ray and Brent Marsh. Officials said Ray and Clara Marsh operated the business many years prior to turning it over to their son several years ago.

They said the business a number of years ago had been grandfathered in, but given a specified time to become properly licensed. However, that period apparently lapsed and no inspections were made of the crematory. Other cremation services in Georgia are frequently visited by state inspectors, who come unannounced.

Officials were seeking to find out why the bodies were not properly disposed of.

Sheriff Wilson was requesting information from the public on any dealings they have had with the crematory.

Attempts are to be made to identify bodies that are on the property.

The probe started after an anonymous phone call was received by the EPA in Atlanta.

Sheriff Wilson said bodies were found stacked on top of one another in the building where they were supposed to be cremated. Others were in shallow graves or in caskets above the ground.

Officials said no bodies of children were found, and most of the bodies were of elderly people.

Sheriff Wilson said the Marshes were involved in community and civic activities.

Officials said no charges would be filed until the probe was complete.

The firm is also known as Marsh Vault and Grave. It is used by several area funeral homes to handle cremations.

The initial number of bodies found was put at 49, but authorities were still searching the grounds.

Sheriff Wilson said the bodies may have arrived at the crematorium as recently as a week ago to 3-4 years ago.

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