When it comes to crimes in crematoriums, even disgusting and immoral body brokering at least makes sense when you look at it from the viewpoint of profitability. Sure, they may put your loved one's corpse in military experiments instead of a science facility or sell diseased body parts for medical training exercises, but at least there's some reasoning behind the crimes. In the case of Brent Marsh, however, who dumped bodies on the property of his crematorium for nearly 20 years, there was no purpose whatsoever in his actions.
In this Georgia crematorium crime, not much makes sense, and motives aren't clear. The Ray Brent Marsh crematorium scandal began when he took over his father's business, and it ended with bodies of people's loved ones strewn across the property's 16 acres. In what was an incredibly gruesome scene, investigators uncovered hundreds of corpses, but many remain unidentified to this day.
Law enforcement combed the 16 acre property and uncovered 339 bodies in various states of decay. Of those bodies, only 226 could be identified. Some of the bodies had been there for 18 years and were mere skeletons. Corpses were piled on top of each other in vaults located in the property's garage, and some were buried in mass graves of up to 40 bodies in 10-foot deep pits; several were thrown into a pond, and others rested among shrubs. John Bankhead, a spokesperson for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said that bodies in boxes rested atop piles of junk. He recounted seeing "a skull to your right, a leg bone to your left, a rib cage not too many feet away." The smell went unnoticed because the crematorium required funeral homes to embalm the bodies before shipping them to be cremated.
The Tri-State Crematorium served funeral homes in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Marsh took over for his ill father in 1996. Authorities estimate that over 2,000 bodies were sent to the crematorium from that time until the property was investigated and closed in 2002.
After investigators discovered a large number of bodies on the property of the crematorium, authorities declared a state of emergency. A federal disaster team flew in, and they brought with them anti-contamination suits, a portable morgue, and many agents to help with the search.
One agent told The Telegraph, after retching under a nearby tree, that the scene looked like a Stephen King novel. He said:
"It stinks like hell down there. Decaying flesh, bits of bones. You can't walk for stepping on bodies. I can see their faces every night when I close my eyes... The undergrowth is so thick we have to hack it back. What's underneath is like a battlefield. Like the remains of several bloody massacres all years apart."
On February 14, 2002, agents received an anonymous tip that someone was walking their dog in the woods located on the 16 acre property that belongs to the crematorium, and the canine unearthed a human bone. Authorities checked the property a day after receiving the tip, and they discovered an initial 49 bodies.
In October of 2000, a propane delivery truck driver was on the property of the Tri-State Crematorium and reported to law enforcement that he saw bodies scattered around the area. The Walker County Sheriff's Office came to the conclusion that the issue was regulatory and not criminal, so nothing was ever done.
In November of 2001, Atlanta's Environmental Protection Agency received an anonymous tip that there were body parts in the woods near the crematorium. The Walker County Sheriff's Office was called in to investigate, but they didn't find anything.