North Carolina crematory suspended after remains found

KING, N.C. (WFMY) —  A crematory employee was found to have 93 “containers of cremated human remains” at his home according to the King Police Department.

The employee, James Massie, worked at Cremation Services Inc. in Winston-Salem and was responsible for disposing of the remains, believed to be from unclaimed bodies.

In a release from the King Police Department, the employee claims he was transporting the remains to dispose of (due to lack of space at the crematory) and had 93 containers of cremated human remains at his home on Faye Court.

Investigators say he did have permission from his boss at the crematory to keep the remains at his home until they could be properly disposed of.

According to Susanne Blair, the owner and manager of the crematory, she gave Massie permission to bring the sets of human remains home with him because he planned to scatter them in the Blue Ridge Mountains the next day. She says he was trying to save time because he lives in King, on the way to the destination.

Bone fragments and cremated remains were found in a trash can for pickup on Jan. 31 at his home. King police confirmed the remains were human.

Blair says one of the containers used to store the remains had a hole in it, and a handful of human remains ended up on the ground. She said later on, Massie found the contents and put it in the trash, but he did not realize they were human remains.

“It was human error,” she said Wednesday.

Blair says the North Carolina Board of Funeral Services issued an order for suspension on March 30. The hearing for this case is May 10 in Raleigh.

Massie is still an employee for Crematorium Services, and Blair says she has no plans to fire him.

The King Police Chief says no charges will be filed because no laws were broken. Under North Carolina law crematoriums only have to keep ashes for 30 days unless you make an agreement with them before the body is burned. After that it doesn’t matter where the ashes are kept because they aren’t the crematorium’s responsibility any more.