Remains of bombing victims returned to family


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A long-awaited sense of closure more than three decades after one of the darkest moments in Philadelphia history. The remains of two children killed when the city bombed the MOVE compound in 1985 have finally been cremated at an East Mount Airy cemetery.

This comes after a long and painful saga for the surviving family.

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Lionell Dotson was emotional in the moments before he received his two sisters’ remains, and promises to give them a proper burial.

“It’s a tragic moment but also a bittersweet moment,” Dotson said.

Dotson says 37 years after his two sisters were killed in the bombing of MOVE, he has now finally retrieved portions of their remains from the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.

“It’s gonna be a joyous occasion. I’m a little hysterical right now because it’s all surreal,” Dotson said.

Katricia and Zanetta Dotson were just 12 and 14 years old when they were killed in the bombing of MOVE in 1985. Dotson showed his T-shirt that has photos of his two sisters. The shirt also reads: “The city of Philadelphia took them from me.”

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Although Philly’s medical examiner was under different leadership at the time of the bombing, the city’s medical examiner apologized to Dotson Wednesday.

“She came out on her own accord and said I’m sorry for your loss and gave me a sincere heartfelt apology. And I appreciate it and I accept it,” Dotson said.

The apology comes after it was revealed last year that the remains of the two girls were being held at the Medical Examiner’s Office and Penn Museum for years.

A report released in June recommends the Medical Examiner’s Office should amend the death certificates of all 11 MOVE victims to reflect that their manners of death were homicides, not accidents.

The Medical Examiner’s Office says it will make the change.

“They finally coming off the shelf. They never should have been stored on a dark, damp shelf in the first place for 37 years. I finally get to take them away from the city that helped kill them,” Dotson said.

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After retrieving his sisters’ remains, Dotson had them cremated at Ivy Hill Cemetery in the city’s East Mount Airy neighborhood. He says after the cremation, he plans to fly back home to North Carolina to give his sisters a proper burial.

Matt Petrillo