Death will not affect cemetery visitation

Police say they find no foul play in the passing of Marsha Lee Howard, owner of local cemetery.

November 10, 2006|By Robert S. Hong

GLENDALE — The sudden death on Saturday of Grand View Memorial Park owner Marsha Lee Howard has deepened the quagmire of controversy surrounding the cemetery, but will not affect people's ability to make their regular Sunday visits.

"Nothing's going to change with the visitations," Senior Assistant City Atty. Mike Grant said.

The cause of Howard's death has been the topic of much speculation, but has not been confirmed. An autopsy is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, officials at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said.

Police say they have found no evidence of foul play, and that the 58-year-old was in poor health.

"As far as the police department is concerned, there were no visible signs of foul play," Glendale Police Officer John Balian said. "There are no obvious signs of a criminal act."


But the contentious legal battle in which Howard was embroiled has many people paying attention and asking questions. The cemetery was facing several class-action lawsuits following news in November 2005 of a state investigation into the cemetery practices. State officials removed Howard as operator of the cemetery and forbid it from conducting any new business after the October 2005 discovery of thousands of cremated remains not properly buried or disposed of.

Although Howard is named in the lawsuits, her passing should not affect the case, said Paul Ayers, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.

"In terms of the law, it shouldn't technically effect anything," he said. "There will be an estate created and the estate will be named to the lawsuit."

Howard's residence and other parts of the grounds have been locked off, Ayers said after visiting the grounds this week.The cause of death is still to be determined, and a full investigation will be conducted if the autopsy report shows Howard's death to be a murder, Balian said.

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