PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A long-awaited feeling of ending more than three decades after one of the darkest moments in Philadelphia’s history. The remains of two children killed when the city bombed the MOVE complex in 1985 were cremated at East Mount Airy Cemetery.
This comes after a long and painful story for the surviving family.
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Lionel Dotson was emotional in the moments before receiving his sister’s remains, and promised to give them a decent burial.
“It’s a tragic moment but also a bittersweet moment,” Dotson said.
Dotson says that 37 years after his sister was killed in the MOVE bombing, he has now finally recovered parts of their remains from the medical examiner’s office in Philadelphia.
“It’s going to be a happy occasion. I’m a bit hysterical now because it’s all so surreal,” Dotson said.
Catrice and Zaneta Dotson were only 12 and 14 years old when they were killed in the MOVE bombing in 1985. Dotson showed off his T-shirt with pictures of his sisters. The T-shirt reads: “The City of Philadelphia took them from me.”
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Although Philly’s medical examiner was under a different command at the time of the bombing, the city’s coroner apologized to Dotson Wednesday.
“She came out on her own and said I’m sorry for your loss and offered me a sincere apology from the heart. I appreciate and accept that,” Dotson said.
The apology comes after it was revealed last year that the girls’ remains had been held at the medical examiner’s office and the Penn Museum for years.
A June report recommends that the medical examiner’s office amend the death certificates of all 11 MOVE victims to reflect that their behaviors at death were murders, not accidents.
The medical examiner’s office says it will make the change.
“They are finally off the shelf. They should never have been stored on a dark, damp shelf in the first place for 37 years. I was finally able to take them away from the city that helped kill them,” Dotson said.
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After recovering the remains of his sisters, Dotson cremates them at Ivy Hill Cemetery in the city’s East Mount Airy neighborhood. After the cremation, he says, he plans to go back to his home state of North Carolina to give his sisters a proper burial.