Funeral Director William Ellenberg Dismembers 800-Pound Body, License Suspended

Funeral director dismembers body

More companies in the funeral industry are offering oversize caskets these days, but apparently difficulties remain when it comes to tending to the bodies of the obese. The owner of a crematory service in the greater Atlanta area recently admitted to dismembering the body of a deceased woman, estimated to weigh 800 pounds, in order to fit it into a crematory, reports WGCL-TV. On Sept. 20, his license was suspended.

William B. Ellenberg III, the funeral director of Metro Embalming and Crematory in Conyers, Ga., confessed to cutting off the fatty tissue on the side of a woman's legs back in July, but defended the action as necessary. "It wasn't disrespectful," he told the local TV station. "I did what I had to do to get the body cremated for the family."

Local police determined that such measures weren't illegal but that regulations require the funeral director to get consent from the deceased's family.

"When we go to mortuary school, we need to get permission to embalm the body -- which is a form of mutilation," explains R.A. Millsaps II, the manager and funeral director of Wages & Sons Funeral Home and Crematories in Lawrenceville, Ga. "If he did that without consent, I'm sure he could get his license pulled."

"It just sickens us to the heart that someone is doing this," Ray Wilson, the owner of Premier Crematory in Conyers, told WGCL-TV, adding that if a person could not fit into the crematory, he would recommend that the family choose burial instead.

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There are other macabre twists to this story of Ellenberg's suspension. Ellenberg is alleged to have threatened the life of a business partner as well as his own inside a funeral establishment, according to the Georgia State Board of Funeral Services' suspension order. Ellenberg told WGCL-TV that these are lies propagated by a business partner with whom he was romantically involved. But the reporter noted that Ellenberg walks with a limp, and WGCL quoted a sheriff's department report as saying that Ellenberg shot himself in the leg in an attempted suicide on Aug. 15.

A man who claimed to be a former employee of Ellenberg's also told WGCL that he'd seen his ex-boss mistreat bodies.

Ellenberg is a 35-year veteran of the funeral industry, according to the Metro Embalming and Crematory website, and started out in funeral services as a teen, first by cutting grass and washing cars at a funeral home. He says that his goal has been to provide affordable services for the community, and he claims to have saved local families $700,000 in cremation fees.

Earlier this year, Ellenberg opened Ellenberg Funeral Services in Loganville, Ga., reports Loganville-Grayson Patch. But the business is no longer in operation.

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Erik Ka

That is a sad story. He is losing his license because some greedy lazy human being consumed food until they weighed 800lbs and died. Don't act like you cared about the b*tch now, complaining about him doing what he needed to do to burn the body. If you cared you wouldn't have let the dumb b*tch get to 800lbs. I have no sympathy for people like this.

October 13 2012 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan and Donna

Is thias like "cut and paste" ????

October 12 2012 at 7:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Brandy B-Lotus Powel

The body was being burned anyways, why is it such a big deal that he had to take her apart to fit in the crematory? It was a given that there would be problems disposing of her body. and if the body is being destroyed by fire anyways, then how did anyone even find out?

October 11 2012 at 11:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The smartest option (if the crematoria was too small) is to politely refer the family to another funeral parlor. At that point the family may discuss the problem and he would have (carefully) explained the options. Hunters dismember their prey, but even then they respect the animal.

October 11 2012 at 1:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He should have offered the family the choice of backing up their pickup and hauling the huge carcass to the local landfill to feed the gulls for years. Or his own method, the chainsaw and zippo.

October 10 2012 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Since this person was 800 lbs and didn't fit, I don't see any problem with his method getting the body into it. I disagree with Mr. Milsaps that the family should have been talked into a (more expensive) burial. I question whether or not getting permission from the family to "take a little of the edges," "dismember" or mutilate" the deceased is wise. How much psychological trauma might be caused by that visual? 800 lbs is bad enough. With that said; however, if this director truly has a history of mistreating bodies or depression, suicidal tendencies and or depression, those are matters to be handled in a different manner. In this case, I don't think he did anything atrocious or disrespectful.

October 10 2012 at 3:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe I'm heartless, but if she's being cremated, I don't see the issue. He did what he had to do to get her into the furnace. If your that upset by it, don't let your family member weigh 800 pounds.

October 10 2012 at 1:16 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Caitlin's comment

Possibly if she didn't tilt the scales at 800 pounds she might have lasted longer. Stick a wick in her and she would have made a memorial torch that would have burned for years.

October 10 2012 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to barbphen60's comment

Wow, are you always so cold and crass? Your first sentence is logical; you second sentence is heartless.

October 12 2012 at 9:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Although I believe this should have been discussed with the family prior to engagement with the deceased, I am aware that unless the funeral home has a crematory that is specifically made for cremating large animals such as a horse, there is nothing that could be done. A regular crematory is not equipped to handle those kinds of dimensions for the morbidly obese.
My condolences to the family, but I also fear a lawsuit may give the funeral director a 2nd look at weather or not he chooses to accept his next obese call.

October 10 2012 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The family had to know exceptional measures would have to be made to take care of a body that was essentially the weight of 4 decent size grown men.

October 10 2012 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Too bad her family didn't care enough about her when she was alive and allowed her to get to 800 pounds.

October 10 2012 at 12:03 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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