As of Feb. 14, examiners had identified 222 of 334 sets of remains found at the crematory, GBI Public Affairs Chief John Bankhead said. Officials have exceeded their expectations in identifying the bodies, saying early in the investigation that they would be proud if they could identify half of the remains.
Earlier reports said 339 sets of remains were found on the grounds of the Noble crematory, but that number recently lowered to 334. Investigators have determined multiple sets of co-mingled remains actually belonged to fewer individuals than originally thought, Bankhead said. Some partial remains are still unidentified.
GBI officials have scheduled a family meeting on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 9 a.m., at the Walker County Agricultural Center, which is behind the Walker Civic Center on U.S. 27 in Rock Spring. Investigators will be available to family members until 1 p.m., Bankhead said. Investigators plan to provide family members with information about identifying characteristics on some of the remains.
Family members who are unable to attend the Feb. 22 meeting will soon be able to access information at the GBI’s website at www.ganet.org/gbi.
Bankhead said he hopes information about medical conditions, tattoos, birthmarks and other unique characteristics will lead to more identifications. The information will also be posted on the Internet for families who cannot attend the meeting.
“What we are going to be doing is meeting with the family members on the status of the case, mainly to focus on information we have on the remaining bodies,” Bankhead said. “We will be posting that information on the bodies on our website by Monday (Feb. 17).”
Rossville-based Tennessee-Georgia Memorial Park last year volunteered to bury and perpetually maintain any unidentified remains.
The bodies found at the crematory were intended for cremation, but were allegedly cast aside by crematory operator Brent Marsh. Marsh faces 334 felony charges of theft by deception for taking money and bodies for cremation but not performing the service, and 64 counts of abuse of corpse for stacking bodies in pits and vaults around the crematory property.
Rock Thomas, chairman of the Noble Truth Committee, and affected family member said he is contacting Gov. Sonny Perdue and other freshman legislators about tightening regulations to prevent another incident like the one in Noble.
Thomas takes aim at the Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson in the letter he sent to state officials, saying he wants legislators to “create a mechanism that would allow any citizen to request an investigation into the alleged mis-conduct. Any failure to thoroughly investigate such reports will constitute official misconduct and will be grounds for disciplinary action or removal from office.