A Conyers funeral director’s license was suspended after he cut into an obese woman’s body to make it fit into a furnace without obtaining her family’s permission.
And his action has upset other directors who considered what he did disrespectful.
Mr. William B. Ellenberg, III also allegedly threatened to kill a colleague who apparently reported the threat and the alleged dismemberment of the 800 pound woman to police and to the state.
The Georgia State Board of Funeral Services suspended his license on Sept. 20, officials said.
Mr. Ellenberg, owner of Metro Embalming & Crematory on Gees Mills Business Parkway, dismembered the body prior to cremation without the asking the family’s permission, Conyers police spokesman Lt. Jackie Dunn said.
Mr. Ellenberg, who estimated the body weighed about 800 pounds, said the woman could not fit in his furnace, according to CBS Atlanta.
“I cut the fatty tissue off the side of the legs so it would fit inside that crematory,” Mr. Ellenberg said, later adding, “I did what I had to do to get the body cremated for the family.”
Lt. Dunn said what Mr. Ellenberg did was not a crime .
“He did it in the course of his business and it was just enough to fit the body into furnace, which is not unacceptable in the industry. But it’s also not common.
“He’s just not allowed to do it without the family’s permission.”
Still, Lt. Dunn said he has received calls from many other directors who denounced the man’s actions.
Mr. Danny Hutcheson, owner of Hutcheson’s Memorial Chapel & Crematory in Buchanan, said what Mr. Ellenberg is accused of doing is disrespectful.
“We have never done that and I know of no other funeral director or crematory that has done that,” Mr. Hutcheson said. “It’s just not an acceptable practice.”
Mr. Hutcheson said he was once faced with a similar problem when he had a body that was too large to fit in either of his two crematories. He said he sent the body to a place in Birmingham that had a furnace that was big enough to fit a body that weighed about 1,100 pound.
Failing that, other directors recommend the family buries the body.
The board’s order also mentioned Mr. Ellenberg threatened the life of a business partner and shot himself inside a licensed funeral establishment, according to the news station.
Walton County Sheriff’s deputies said Mr. Ellenberg shot himself in the leg in an attempted suicide on Aug. 15.
Mr. Ellenberg told the news station a former love interest and business partner reported him to authorities.
“It’s a scorned woman that’s done this to me. Lies can hurt people,” Mr. Ellenberg said.
Mr. Ellenberg can appeal the board’s decision. It’s unclear if he will. It’s also unclear the length of his suspension.