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Anger grows in GA town

BY SUSAN KIM | NOBLE, GA | March 11, 2002

Public anger is growing in

and around the rural Georgia town where a crematory

operator dumped 339 bodies on the 16-acre property of

Tri-State Crematory.

Faith-based groups and local clergy are helping people

cope with their anger over the fate of their loved ones.

As of Monday a flurry of lawsuits had been filed against

the crematory operator in both Georgia and Tennessee,

with additional charges possible, according to Walker

County prosecutors. All four judges in the rural

district have family connections to the case and will

likely recuse themselves.

Investigators cut trees, scraped the grounds, and

drained a small lake on the crematory property. The

Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported that no

additional bodies had been found in the lake.

Health officials reported that local water supplies were

not contaminated. Some wells were tested after bodies

began to be discovered.

Shortly after the first body was discovered in mid-

February, a family assistance center was opened at Walker County

Civic Center, where American Red Cross volunteers helped

people fill out the paperwork necessary to identify

family members. Local clergy visited the assistance

center offering pastoral care, and are also offering

spiritual care to individual families.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance sent $10,000 from a One

Great Hour of Sharing offering to the Chickamauga

Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Edward Langham and the

Chickamauga congregation is using the funds to train

grief counselors through a program certified by the

Grief Recovery Institute of Los Angeles.

A Salvation Army unit from Marietta, GA served hot meals

and drinks at the assistance center. A second unit from

Covington, GA was stationed on the crematorium property

and fed more than 100 recovery workers daily while the

investigation continued.

Doug Watson, disaster director for The Salvation Army's

Georgia division, described the scene as grim. "This has

been very hard on all those involved in the recovery

effort. Everyone is shocked by the number of bodies that

have been discovered, and how callously these remains

were treated. A lot of us are thinking about the

families of these folks and our hearts go out to them."

The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and local pastors are all

working in cooperation with state and county emergency

management officials.

Officials are estimating that some of the bodies

scattered about the property have been there for up to

20 years.

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