Law Firm’s Search for Records Turns Up 96 Boxes of Cremains
Posted Dec 18, 2009 7:42 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A law firm’s search for financial records of a bankrupt funeral home turned up a startling discovery: nearly 100 boxes of cremated human remains.
Employees of Arnall Golden Gregory in Atlanta found the remains in suburban storage units used by the Sellers Brothers Funeral business, according to WSB-TV, which broke the news. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Associated Press also had stories.
Nine boxes of the remains had no identification on them, so the families cannot be notified. Some of the remains date back 25 years.
Bankruptcy lawyer Neil Gordon told WSB-TV about the firm’s discovery in an effort to locate relatives. He showed the TV station four boxes of remains being held in a law firm closet; 92 other boxes were turned over to medical examiner’s offices, according to WSB-TV.
“It is not widely known in the firm that this has even been taking place,” Gordon told WSB-TV. “It would be emotionally troubling to many people.” Gordon said even senior partners at the firm weren’t aware that the remains were in a closet.
The remains were found in July, but families could not be contacted until Gordon filed documents in the probate courts of each county where the people died.
The former owner of the funeral home, Juanita Sellers Stone, told the Journal-Constitution that the remains—known as cremains—were not abandoned, and they were not held because of nonpayment. “The reason we keep the cremains is family members, for some reason, will not claim them and later generations will,” she said. “The goal was to retrieve them at the proper time.”