KING — Reporters and news outlets swarmed into the quiet neighborhood of Country Place, located minutes from downtown King, on Wednesday after news broke that “93 bags” of cremated remains were found at 110 Faye Court in February.
Homeowner James Massie, who works at Cremation Services of Winston-Salem, said it isn’t what it seems. He explained he brought the remains home to properly dispose of them the following day, but an unfortunate accident occurred.
“I didn’t want to leave them in the back of my truck, so I decided to place them in my shed. As I was moving them, the bottom of the tote had a crack in it and busted. Some of the remains fell out.”
Massie said he scooped up what he could and disposed of the rest in an outside trash can.
“We had some work done around our house and a person from a tree company happened to see it. I guess they decided to look around, and here we are now,” he said. “There was no disrespect or malicious intent. I hate it happened.”
The cremation remains, around 80 individually identified, were scheduled to be scattered along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“That’s what we’ve done for years,” Massie said. “Eighty-five percent were unclaimed. We do cremations for some families who don’t want the ashes back of their loved one. By law, we’re required to hold them for 30 days, but we typically keep them for up to a year. We had documentation and paperwork for every single one when the N.C. State Board came to inspect.”
Massie added, “This was a terrible accident.”
When Massie was approached by the King Police Department, he was forthcoming.
“I didn’t do anything illegal, even though I know it looks bad. What I read today made it sound like we were storing bodies in our neighborhood and that’s just not true. I have a wife and two children that are scared because there’s news cameras at my house.”
King Police Department said they received information on January 31 from a citizen who noticed what appeared to be bone fragments and cremated remains in or near a trash can that was set out for pickup at Faye Court in King.
King investigators were able to confirm the remains were human.
In a written statement King Police Chief Paula May said, “A report was made to the District Attorney of Stokes County, and investigators were told that the man’s actions did not constitute a violation of state law, so there would be no criminal prosecution. King Police Department forwarded a complaint of improper handling of the human remains to the North Carolina Board of Funeral Services due to indicators of policy violations. A response has not yet been received.”
Amanda Dodson is editor of The Stokes News and may be reached at 336-813-2426.