Unclaimed remains unknown problem in Chatham County - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Unclaimed remains unknown problem in Chatham County

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CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Did you know there are countless human remains that go unclaimed in Chatham County every year?

In a back room at the Chatham County Coroner's Office are the remains of nearly 200 people, stored in white cardboard boxes and stacked on plastic shelves.

Some of the remains have gone unclaimed for a decade. One of the remains left unclaimed are of a mother, and her son's remains go unclaimed in a hospital morgue.

"Howie, um, ended up with no family," said friend Mark Stewart.

Howie Roller was a character, a fixture at Port Wentworth pool halls since he was a little boy.

"He couldn't hardly see over the pool table, but that boy could play pool," said Stewart.

Roller was a carpenter and a fisherman. He had a job at Gulfstream. Then, in 2007, his brother died.

"Things really started going south for him," said friend Michael Williams.

Roller turned to alcohol.

"He lost his job, and he had another half decent job, and he lost it due to the drinking," said Williams.

Roller ended up homeless, and then in April his mother died. Friends said that's when Roller gave up.

"I think he just kind of gave up and slowly let the world beat him up from the inside out," said Williams.

Friends said Roller hit the bottle harder than ever. On May 7, he was found dead in a friend's shed.

"We'll always remember him as a dear friend," said Stewart.

Last week friends remembered Roller at a memorial service at Houlihan Boat landing, but it's still not clear who will claim his body or his mother's remains.

The coroner said friends can claim the cremated remains that are housed at the Coroner's Office, but friends or family have to reimburse the office, and the taxpayers, for the money spent to cremate those bodies.

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