Thursday, March 28, 2013
N.J. Revises Rule to Cremate Legally Bodies of Temple Ritual,
January 10, 1979, AP / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, N.J. Revises Rule to Cremate Legally Bodies of Temple Ritual,
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A state agency ruled yesterday that the bodies of 29 Peoples Temple victims had been illegally cremated in New Jersey. It then revised its regulations to allow Delaware undertakers to bypass the rule that they had been accused of violating.
The State Board of Mortuary Science issued its ruling after state Deputy Attorney General Charles Mysak said that of the 631 bodies still awaiting disposal at a military morgue at Dover Air Force Base, Del., as many as 150 may be cremated in New Jersey.
Mysak said 29 bodies were cremated between Dec. 8 and Dec. 19 in Eglington Cemetery in Clarksboro. The cremations stopped when the state objected to the actions of the Delaware undertakers.
The body of the Rev. Jim Jones, the cult leader who led more than 900 of his followers to a ritual of murder and suicide at their commune in Guyana, was cremated in New Jersey on Dec. 19 Jones' ashes were scattered over the Atlantic Ocean.
The State mortuary board censured six Delaware morticians to whom the 29 bodies were released because the undertakers were not licensed in New Jersey.
"Except for licensing, New Jersey state laws appear to have been complied with," said Mysak, who noted that the bodies could not have been cremated legally in Delaware because they were not accompanied by death certification.
The board decided that, regardless of whether the Delaware morticians were licensed in New Jersey, it would allow them to have the bodies cremated here if they obtain a special permit for each corpse. To obtain the special permits, the Delaware morticians would need Guyanese and U.S, documents and the authorization of the victims, but no death certificate.
Unidentified bodies would not be including because cremation of such corpses is illegal under New Jersey law.
Mysak said the bodies posed no health hazard because they were shipped to New Jersey in sealed coffins,