The Tri-State Crematory was founded by Tommy Marsh in the 1970s. Located in northwest Georgia, near the city of LaFayette, it provided cremation services for a number of funeral homes in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. When Tommy Marsh's health deteriorated in the mid-1990s, his son, Ray Brent Marsh, took over operation of the business.
In 2001, a propane delivery truck driver named Gerald Cook contacted the Walker County Sheriff's Department and reported having seen dead bodies strewn about outdoors on the Marsh property. A deputy sheriff responded to the call but didn't find anything out of the ordinary.
Frustrated by the lack of results, Cook told his aunt what he had seen - that human remains were not being disposed of properly at the Crematory. His aunt, who worked for the FBI as a secretary, contacted the US Environmental Protection Agency field office in Atlanta with the information. EPA agents were sent to investigate the property and discovered a human skull and bones on the premises.
On Feb. 15, 2002, investigators returned and a more thorough search was conducted. They found piles of rotting human bodies in a storage shed, in vaults and scattered throughout the property. The search ultimately recovered 339 bodies in various states of decay.
A federal disaster team was brought into the area along with a portable morgue shipped from Maryland. The team began trying to identify the remains, a process made difficult because many of the corpses were in advanced stages of decomposition. Some were little more than skeletons. Of the 339 bodies that were discovered, 226 were identified.
At some point after Ray Brent Marsh took over the business, he claimed that the cremation oven, or "retort," was broken and that was why the 339 bodies had been buried, stacked in the storage shed or left in the woods instead of being cremated. Families had received concrete dust instead of the cremated remains of their loved ones. Later, the oven was tested and found to be in working order.
Wiki.Ray Brent Marsh was arrested on over 300 criminal violations and was ultimately charged by the State of Georgia with 787 counts, including theft by deception, abusing a corpse, burial service related fraud and giving false statements. Marsh pled guilty and is currently serving a twelve year sentence.