Corpses found at crematory BY: Zac Wesner In Layfetta, Ga. A tiny lake where a skull and a torso were discovered last month is the newest focus in the search for corpses at a crematory whose operator allegedly discarded hundreds of bodies. Authorities began draining the three-acre lake Monday, with pipes drawing enough water out to drop its level by 6 inches. Officials estimate the lake outside Tri-State Crematory is 8 feet deep at its deepest point. Authorities said they will probably spend more than a week dredging the dry lake bed for human remains. 339 rotting corpses have been discovered dumped in pits, left in sheds and stacked in vaults at the facility.
Crematory operator Ray Brent Marsh is in jail on 172 charges of theft by deception for allegedly taking payment to cremate the dead and instead passing off cement powder and dirt as ashes. Investigators have said Marsh told them the incinerator was broken .But
on Monday, police disclosed for the first time that the incinerator is working. Lisa Ray said the machine's manufacturer successfully tested it last week. prosecutor Buzz Franklin said police had discovered photos of decomposed bodies on Marsh's computer. He did not say why Marsh was storing the photos. Marsh was not granted bail for a third time. Police said they were worried Marsh might be killed if released. Sheriff Wilson testified that at a victims meeting one woman said she wanted to hang Marsh, and the threat was also very welcome by the people.
Police said Search teams will have to wait until a lake on the property is drained so they can search the 3-acre bed. The draining of the 9 million gallon lake began Monday. The water levels had dropped about four feet by Tuesday afternoon. Police will not be able to start searching the lake bed until it dries. once the lake is excavated, police will be pretty confident that they've pretty well turned up every bit of soil out there and have all of the recoveries of remains that are possible. Police decided to drain the lake after search teams using infrared cameras and underwater radar found a submerged human head and torso. those body parts have not yet been recovered. The number of bodies recovered is at 339 and of those; 100 have been identified.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency estimated the final cost of the recovery and investigation, which could last months, at $9.4 million. Thirty funeral homes in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee had sent bodies to the crematory over two decades. the facility escaped regulation because it did not do business directly with the public, working instead through funeral homes.
Gilley planned to file at least 14 charges Monday against Marsh, including an abuse of corpse charge. The crematory was used by more than 30 funeral homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Records show Marsh picked up more than 250 bodies in Tennessee and drove them across the state line.