The remains of three people found two weeks ago in a Metter-area scrapyard were identified Thursday, and one man is in jail on charges of abandoning dead bodies.
Percy Hodges, 70, owner and director of Hodges Funeral Home, is charged with “throwing away or abandonment of dead bodies,” Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 31-21-14, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 5 Special Agent-in-Charge John Durden.
Hodges is held responsible for the abandonment of three bodies, stored for over 25 years in a shed on the funeral home property. The GBI, after executing a search warrant Thursday and speaking with witnesses, were told the bodies are those of Theresa McClarin, Leroy Dixon and Mamie Fredricks.
However, “we don’t have anything but (Hodges’) word that (the names) are correct,” Durden said.
Further investigation and forensics may help positively identify the remains, he said.
Hodges told investigators that no one ever claimed the bodies, and they were eventually moved from the funeral home to the shed, and apparently forgotten, according to Durden.
Georgia law requires cremation or burial of unclaimed bodies, usually funded by the county. A coroner may store unclaimed cremains.
The bodies — two in metal containers and one in a casket — went unburied for over two decades.
The bodies were discovered Dec. 28, when workers hired to tear down the shed took the casket and containers to Scrap Partners Recycling in Metter, where they hoped to sell the items as scrap metal.
However, as the containers and caskets were being offloaded, one popped open, revealing “a skull and rib bones,” the GBI reported.
“They didn’t even open them” and would not have known about the remains if the rotted bottom of one container had not fallen apart, Durden said.
Candler County sheriff’s deputies, including Sheriff John Miles, responded to the scene and then contacted the GBI, which also responded.
After several days’ investigation, Hodges was taken into custody as investigators combed the funeral home for information and ensured there were no additional bodies improperly stored on the property.
As of late Thursday, Hodges awaited a bond hearing. The investigation is continuing, Durden said.
Durden asked that anyone with information on Theresa McClarin, Leroy Dixon or Mamie Fredricks, or with any other information on the case, please call the Statesboro GBI Region 5 office at (912) 871-1121.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.