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Crematory: Woman abandons mom's body

CONYERS -- A local crematory owner said he is unsure what to do next after he said a woman abandoned her mother's body at his business.

Ray Wilson of Premier Crematory on Smyrna Road said the remains of the 56-year-old woman, a resident of Atlanta, will be kept at his facility in hopes of being able to work out something with the woman's family.

A daughter of the woman contacted Wilson on June 25, a Friday, and had agreed to use him for cremation services, Wilson said. The woman died later that day and Wilson removed the body from Piedmont Hospital.

"(The daughter) came in Monday, signed the death certificate, did not want to see her mother one last time, and we asked for the payment and she looked at me square in my eyes and said 'I do not have any money,'" Wilson said.

After a brief discussion with the daughter, Wilson said she shook his and his wife's hands, thanked them for their patience and walked out.

The daughter called on Tuesday, June 29, to say she would pay later that day but did not show up, Wilson said. "We have never seen or heard from her ever since," he said.

Wilson said the three phone numbers and addresses the daughter gave them were "bogus."

"We have discounted our prices to really accommodate her financially. You know, we never try to pressure families, we never do pressure sales to families," Wilson said. "Just tell us where you are. We want to help put closure on your situation."

Wilson said he was able to make contact with the dead woman's uncle who told Wilson he had not seen the daughter since he drove her to Conyers and did not know her whereabouts. Another relative said she gave the daughter the money to pay for her mother's cremation and had not heard from her either, Wilson said.

So far, the deceased woman's son, who reportedly lives in Hawaii, sent $200 and a family friend gave $100 toward defraying the cost, Wilson said.

Wilson has been in business since 2000 and said he has dealt with families who are having economic difficulties and is usually able to work out some type of payment.

He said he felt tricked into moving the woman's remains to Conyers and did not understand why.

"The whole point we're trying to make to the general public is the abandonment of their responsibility," he said. "I'm sorry that your loved one has passed, but we're not responsible for financing for your services."

The woman's body remained in Premier's refrigeration unit Tuesday.

According to Sarah Thompson, a spokeswoman at the Georgia Secretary of State's office, which regulates funeral homes and crematories, Wilson can cremate the body only if he has consent from the family. If not, he has to go to a magistrate judge and request an order to dispose of the body, either by burial or cremation, and have the local jurisdiction cover costs.

Wilson said other family members have said they cannot cover the cost for the woman's cremation.

He explained there is a process for indigents to pay for a burial, but in this case it will have to be taken up in Fulton County.

"And I need (the daughter) in order to do anything in Fulton County," Wilson said.