NOBLE, Ga. (AP) -- As the ground around Tri-State Crematory yielded more corpses, residents in three states faced the horror of planning funerals for loved ones they had long believed were resting in peace.
Forensics teams late Monday had recovered 139 bodies left to rot outside the northwest Georgia crematory, finding skeletons sealed in vaults and bodies that had been dragged into a shed.
"I feel like I'm in a horror movie," said Leatha Shropshire, a mother of three, whose own mother died Jan. 30 and was found dumped in the 16-acre area behind the crematory.
Clutching a framed photograph of her mother, Shropshire said she is more fortunate than hundreds of others who are still waiting to see if their loved ones can be identified from the intermingled skeletons.
"We just lost our mother two weeks ago and we are having to do this all over again," Shropshire said. "The waiting was killing us. There is no way to describe what that kind of waiting is like."
Ray Brent Marsh, operator of the crematory in this rural town 20 miles south of Chattanooga, Tenn., was arrested for a second time and authorities filed 11 new theft-by-deception charges against him, bringing the total to 16.
"By the hour, this is getting bigger and bigger and bigger," said Kris Sperry, the state's chief medical examiner. "I don't have a theory because none of this makes sense. I don't think it ever will."
Investigators have said Marsh told them the bodies were not cremated because the incinerator was broken. Authorities said they were unsure how long the incinerator was broken, but evidence shows some dumped bodies have been there for 15 years or more.
Sperry said some corpses were found in body bags, while others were dressed in clothing or hospital gowns or wrapped in sheets. They ranged from newly delivered to severely decomposed, even mummified, he said, predicting that some would never be identified.
A federal disaster mortuary team began arriving late Monday to open a mass morgue to sort the bodies. More than 400 people were involved in the investigation.
Marsh, 28, refused a request for a jailhouse interview. Calls to his home and the crematory went unanswered Monday, and voicemail boxes at both numbers were full.
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