April 19, 2002
HEALTH DEPARTMENT TO ASSIST IN DNA COLLECTION
FROM GEORGIA CREMATORIUM INCIDENT
Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department has agreed to collect DNA samples from family members trying to identify remains that have been mishandled by the Tri-State Crematorium in northwest Georgia.
The Health Department was contacted by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, which is handling the identification of human remains that had not been cremated by the Tri-State Crematorium.
On February 15, 2002, it was discovered that hundreds of bodies had not been cremated by the facility. So far, 339 sets of human remains have been recovered in and around the Tri-State Crematorium. Only 124 of the remains have been identified, leaving hundreds of families unable to reclaim their loved one’s remains.
Area family members can come to the Mecklenburg County Health Department and have a blood sample drawn, which will then be sent-off for comparative testing with DNA samples taken from the unidentified remains.
The Health Department will not charge family members for the blood draws. The State of Georgia is picking up the cost of the DNA comparative tests that will be performed by United States Armed Forces DNA Laboratory.
“I would hope that someone would extend our families the same courtesy,” says Delores Plummer, supervisor of the Mecklenburg County Health Department’s southeast laboratory. “The extra hours that we will spend on this project pales in comparison to the time these people have had to wait to identify their family members.”
The discovery of hundreds of bodies stacked around this Georgia crematorium made worldwide headlines. Calls from families whose loved were supposed to have been cremated by Tri-State came in from across the country. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency contacted the Mecklenburg County Health Department to reach families in our area that may have been affected.
Plummer says she expects to begin taking the blood samples as soon as the Georgia Emergency Management Agency contacts area relatives who may have had family members sent to Tri-State.