The new owners of a funeral home that had been shut down by the state were confronted with an overwhelming task when almost 200 boxes of ashes were found stashed in the basement, and there's no way to track down loved ones who might want to claim those ashes.
FOX 4 has been following the Marts Memorial story from the start, ever since we discovered the funeral home run by Ron Marts gave a grieving widower the wrong ashes. After an investigation, the state shut Marts down. Now, the new owners are dealing with yet another problem Marts left behind.
Marts Memorial, off Westport Road and Main, is no more and replaced now by Reflections Memorial Services and a new owner who was overwhelmed when he walked in the door.
New owner Malcolm Morris found the about 200 boxes of cremated remains in the basement.
"I had an inkling there were some but not that many," Morris said.
They were in a basement area that Morris calls uninhabitable: boxes on the floor and some wet from water seepage. Morris says most have a name, but says Marts didn't keep proper records.
"We know who they are," Morris said. "We have no way of contacting the families."
Marts had a contract with the county to cremate indigents, but it's hard to say who these people are. Some had been here as long as two years. It appears 30 to 40 of them are veterans. The new owners say each and every one deserves dignity.
"Those are human beings," new funeral home director Josh Dukes said. "They may look like a bunch of boxes, but those are human beings. There are a lot down there."