2 girls’ remains given to family decades after Philadelphia’s MOVE bombing

The remains of two children killed when the city bombed the MOVE compound in 1985 have finally been cremated. (Source: KYW/LIONELL DOTSON/CNN)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 10:19 AM PDT
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW) - A long-awaited sense of closure took place 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 communual compound in 1985 have finally been cremated at a cemetery.

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

“It’s a tragic moment but also a bittersweet moment,” said Lionell Dotson, who 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 going to be a joyous occasion. I’m a little hysterical right now because it’s all surreal,” he said.

Katricia and Zanetta Dotson were just 12 and 14 years old when they were killed in the bombing of MOVE in 1985.

Katricia and Zanetta Dotson, shown as young children, were just 12 and 14 years old when they...
Katricia and Zanetta Dotson, shown as young children, were just 12 and 14 years old when they were killed in the bombing of MOVE in 1985.

Dotson was wearing T-shirt that has photos of his two sisters. The shirt also reads: the “City of Philadelphia took them from me.”

“They took my family, and that’s why I got this in remembrance of them,” he said.

Although Philly’s medical examiner’s office was under different leadership at the time of the bombing, the office 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,” he said.

The apology comes after it was revealed last year the remains of the two girls were being held at the medical examiners office and Penn Museum for years.

A report released in June recommends the medical examiners office should amend the death certificates of all 11 MOVE victims to reflect that their manners of deaths were homicides, not accidents.

The medical examiner’s office said it will make that change

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

Dotson said he plans to fly back home to North Carolina to give his sisters a proper burial.

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