Instead Of Cremating Bodies, One Mad Rancher Just Dumped Them
Death is spooky, but cremation may well be the least spooky to happen to a dead body. For one thing, cremation is a good preventative measure against zombies, which is why very few horror movies feature an urn of ashes rising from the dead. The only scary part of cremation might be getting cremated while you're secretly still alive, and even that won't be scary for very long.
You know what's much scarier than a crematorium cremating bodies? A crematorium not cremating bodies.
For 20 years, Tommy Marsh ran the Tri-State Crematory, servicing Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. In 1996, his son Ray Marsh took over. Over the next six years, 2,000 bodies went to the Tri-State Crematory for cremation. Then in 2002, a man delivering propane to the facility noticed what appeared to be human remains sticking out of the ground. He complained to the sheriff, who came by and noticed nothing amiss. Later, someone (maybe the propane guy) tipped the EPA off, anonymously. They sent officers who found ... well, they found a great deal amiss.
They easily detected some human remains in the ground, and once the thorough search had finished, they'd unearthed 339 bodies that Ray had buried around his ranch instead of cremating. They managed to identify 226 of them, but the others had decayed too much.
We've previously covered a scandal from the '80s in California, where a crematorium mixed a bunch of people's ashes together. The motive was clear in that case: By burning a bunch of bodies in one batch, the business saved money. With the Tri-State Crematory, however, no one knows why Ray did what he did. If you have a cremation oven, it's much easier to burn a body than to bury it on your land. At one point, Ray claimed his oven was broken, but that didn't appear to be true—and even if it were, fixing an oven is much easier than burying hundreds of bodies.
The defense put forward one possible explanation: Ray had breathed in mercury fumes from cremating people with fillings, and so he'd gone mad. He pleaded guilty, however, and went to jail for 12 years. That still left him open to civil suits, which totaled tens of millions of dollars and were eventually paid by his insurer. The money went to a lot of grieving families, angry to learn that instead of their loved ones' ashes, he had just given them concrete dust.
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For more on what can happen to your ashes, check out:
True Crime: The Case of The Ghoulish California Crematorium Owner
5 Horrifying Truths About Funeral Homes (From an Undertaker)
The 5 Creepiest Ways to Immortalize Yourself
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