Dr. Thomas Farley, who has been serving as Philadelphia Health Commissioner resigned to his position over his involvement in the cremation and disposal of remains belonging to victims of the 1985 MOVE bombing. The announcement was made by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Thursday afternoon according to a CBS Philly report.
“Earlier this week, I learned of a very disturbing incident involving the Philadelphia Department of Public Health that occurred during the first term of our administration. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley disclosed that several years ago he learned of remains found by the Medical Examiner’s Office that belonged to victims of the 1985 MOVE bombing. Instead of fully identifying those remains and returning them to the family, he made a decision to cremate and dispose of them,” Kenney said in a statement.
In a Thursday evening press conference, it was revealed that Farley came forward with this information. Kenney said he learned just 48 hours ago that these remains had been cremated and disposed of. At that point, Farley was asked to resign, and the mayor accepted.
In 2017 Dr. Farley was informed of a box that contained bone fragments belonging to victims of the 1985 MOVE bombing. “Instead of fully identifying those remains and returning them to the family he made a decision to cremate and dispose of them,” Kenney said.
The Mayor explained that the scandal was revealed they revealed on the 36th anniversary of the MOVE bombing at the request of the Africa family. He met them to offer an apology and a full investigation.
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These remains are separate from those that were revealed last month to have been kept by the Penn Museum and later misplaced by researchers at Princeton after being transferred there.
Eyewitness News asked iif the investigation into those MOVE remains is what prompted Farley’s revelation, but the mayor could not answer that for sure.
Dr. Farley addressed the scandal in a statement of his own Thursday. “I have reconsidered my actions. I believe my decision was wrong and represented a terrible error in judgment. I profoundly regret making this decision without consulting the family members of the victims and I extend my deepest apologies for the pain this will cause them.”
Meanwhile, Kenney has appointed Dr. Cheryl Bettigole as Acting Health Commissioner and a national search process will be done to fill the position for the rest of his term.