Noble, Ga. Authorities opened more vaults Wednesday at a crematory where corpses were left in piles to rot and planned to drain a lake where a skull and torso were found. They said the number of bodies could reach 300.
The torso and skull were found in the water about 20 yards from the bank, Sheriff Steve Wilson said. Officials were testing the water for contamination and said draining would not begin until the results were back, in at least two days.
Meanwhile, searchers began counting bodies from six vaults in a shed at the Tri-State Crematory. Georgia Medical Examiner Dr. Kris Sperry said the six vaults could have as many as 20 corpses each.
The full recovery effort at the crematory could take eight months, said Gary McConnell, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
As of midday Wednesday, searchers had found 206 bodies, only 35 of which have been positively identified.
The operator of the crematory, 28-year-old Ray Brent Marsh, remained in jail, charged with 16 counts of theft by deception for allegedly taking payment for cremations he never performed. Marsh does not yet have an attorney.
Some law enforcement officials said Marsh may be safer in jail because so many people are outraged that their relatives' bodies were left in piles or in the woods.
Tom Shaw, who drove from St. Joseph, Mo., to this rural town near Chattanooga, Tenn., after his mother's body was found, said Marsh "deserves to be put to death and then thrown out in a barn."
"He's lucky I was so far away when I first found out, because I was hot," Shaw said at a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at a Baptist church in Chickamauga.
Two lawsuits alleging fraud have so far filed been against the crematory.