Bodies Of Three Children Unclaimed At Morgue With AM-MOVE Anniversary Bjt
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The remains of three children who died in the MOVE siege remain unclaimed in the city morgue a year after fire destroyed their row house.
The bodies of Tamasa ″Boo″ Africa, 9, Phil Phillips Africa, about 12, and Delicia Orr Africa, about 12, are in cold storage at the medical examiner’s office, according to Dr. Robert Catherman, acting medical examiner.
Five of the six parents of the children are in prison for crimes committed during confrontations with police in 1977 and 1978; the sixth parent’s whereabouts are unknown.
Five children and six adults died on May 13, 1985, in a fire started by a police bomb dropped on the roof of MOVE’s fortified row house. The fire destroyed 61 homes.
Members of the group took the surname Africa after MOVE’s founder, John Africa, who died in the fire.
Gerald Ford Africa, a MOVE member and spokesman who was given power of attorney to handle the remains, said the group did not have the money to make funeral arrangements. When the group did have the money, the city needed the bodies for its investigation, he said.
″We intend to do it as soon as we get appropriate funds,″ said Africa. ″It’s not that we’re being negligent. They will be cared for as consistently as possible with our beliefs.″
Catherman said Monday that had the children not been MOVE members, they would have been cremated or buried in the City Cemetery months ago.
″There is no reason - there hasn’t been for months - that those bodies can’t be claimed,″ Catherman said. ″The city has been after them to get those bodies out, and nothing has happened. Why? I don’t know.″
Africa said he had been unable to find a funeral director willing to donate his services. ″They say they don’t want to get involved,″ he said.
The children’s bodies were dug out of the rubble of the MOVE house with the bodies of two other children, Zenetta and Katricia Dotson. Katricia, 14, and Zanetta, 13, were buried Dec. 14 after their bodies were claimed by an uncle, Isaac Dotson, and other relatives.
The body of Tomasa was one of the first of the children identified by the medical examiner’s office. He was thought to be the first baby born among the primitive conditions of the original MOVE house in the city’s Powelton Village section.