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 complex in 1985 were eventually cremated at an East Mount Airy cemetery.
It comes after a long and painful saga for the surviving family.
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Lionell Dotson was emotional in the moments leading up to receiving the remains of his two sisters and promises to give them a proper burial.
“It’s a tragic moment but also a bittersweet moment,” Dotson said.
Dotson says that 37 years after his two sisters were killed in the MOVE bombing, he finally recovered parts of their remains from the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office.
“It’s going to be a joyous occasion. I’m a little hysterical right now because it’s all surreal,” Dotson said.
Katricia and Zanetta Dotson were only 12 and 14 when they were killed in the 1985 MOVE bombing. Dotson showed off her T-shirt with pictures of her 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 management at the time of the bombing, the city’s medical examiner issued an apology to Dotson on Wednesday.
“She came out on her own and said I’m sorry for your loss and gave me a sincere, sincere apology. And I appreciate that and accept that,” Dotson said.
The apology comes after it was revealed last year that the two girls’ remains had been held at the medical examiner’s office and the Penn Museum for years.
A report released in June recommends the medical examiner’s office amend the death certificates of the 11 MOVE victims to state that their manner of death was homicide, not accident.
The Medical Examiner’s Office says it will make the change.
“They are finally coming off the shelf. They should never have been stored on a dark, damp shelf for 37 years. I can finally get them away from the town that helped kill them,” Dotson said.
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After recovering her sisters’ remains, Dotson had them cremated at Ivy Hill Cemetery in the city’s East Mount Airy neighborhood. He says that after the cremation, he plans to return home to North Carolina to give his sisters a proper burial.