A Conyers funeral director has been suspended by the Georgia State Board of Funeral Services after he allegedly threatened to kill a colleague and dismembered the body of an obese person.
According to the board's order, William B. Ellenberg III, owner of Metro Embalming and Crematory on Gees Mills Business Parkway, dismembered the body prior to cremation.
Ellenberg estimated the body was estimated at 800 pounds.
"I cut the fatty tissue off the side of the legs so it would fit inside that crematory," said Ellenberg.
When asked if he thought it was disrespectful, Ellenberg responded, "It wasn't disrespectful. I did what I had to do to get the body cremated for the family."
Conyers Police Lt. Jack Dunn said his department's investigation found Ellenberg did not commit a crime by cutting off parts of a body.
"It is actually not an uncommon practice that the body is sometimes too large to fit into the furnace," said Dunn. Dunn points out that regulations require the funeral director get consent from the family before the body is dismembered.
Ellenberg said he asked the funeral home for permission - not the family.
Ray Wilson, owner of Premier Crematory in Conyers, said he thinks it is disrespectful to dismember a body even if the family permits it. If a body doesn't fit inside the crematory, Wilson said he recommends the family bury the deceased instead.
The order also mentioned Ellenberg threatened the life of a business partner and shot himself inside a licensed funeral establishment. According to a Walton County Sheriff's Department report, Ellenberg shot himself in the leg in an attempted suicide on Aug. 15.
Ellenberg said 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," said Ellenberg.
The board suspended Ellenberg's funeral director and embalmer licenses on Sept. 20. Ellenberg can appeal the decision.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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