CONYERS -- A Conyers funeral service director and embalmer has been suspended by the Georgia State Board of Funeral Service after he allegedly tried to kill himself inside a funeral home in Loganville and threatened the life of another person.
The funeral director and embalming licenses of William B. Ellenberg III were suspended in an order signed Sept. 20. Ellenberg is the owner of Metro Embalming & Crematory Inc. in Conyers and Ellenberg Funeral Services in Loganville.
In its order of suspension, the board wrote that a temporary protective order had been issued in Walton County against Ellenberg after he allegedly threatened to kill a person with whom he worked.
The order also stated that the board had received reliable information that Ellenberg had "cut up and dismembered the body of an obese deceased person prior to cremating the body."
According to the state code section governing funeral directors and embalmers, grounds for denial or revocation of a license include:
-- Gross or willful malpractice or gross neglect in the practice of embalming, funeral directing or cremating;
-- Disregarding a decedent's dignity, right to privacy or right to confidentiality unless compelled by law to do otherwise; and
-- Engaging in any unprofessional, immoral, unethical, deceptive or deleterious conduct or practice harmful to the public, which conduct or practice materially affects the fitness of the licensee or registrant to practice in the funeral business, or is of a nature likely to jeopardize the interest of the general public ...
Ellenberg has the right to appeal the suspension of his licenses.
According to the Walton County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded Aug. 15 to the Ellenberg Funeral Home at 1939 Ga. Highway 81 on a report of an attempted suicide.
Deputies found Ellenberg inside an apartment at the funeral home, according to Deputy Lora Stamey, where he had apparently shot himself in the leg. He was taken to Athens Regional Medical Center for treatment. Deputies recovered a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun at the scene. Stamey said a note was found at the scene but she could not say whether or not it was a suicide note.
Conyers Police Department Lt. Jackie Dunn said an active investigation is under way in Conyers "into some allegations made by present and former employees and other associates of the business. Because of those allegations we contacted the state board that governs crematories and worked with them on these allegations."
Dunn said it does not appear that any laws have been broken.
"So far on our end it appears that any violations are dealt with as regulatory and would be handled by the board," Dunn said.
Dunn said that the CPD investigation showed that dismembering a body prior to cremation is an accepted practice in the crematory business.
"Sometimes there are bodies that are too large to fit into the furnace, and sometimes they are dismembered to complete the cremation," Dunn said. "It is my understanding that this is done with family consent, and from our investigation, there was no consent."