Unknown-grave-marker-8-p.-27A huge flap arose in Chicago, Illinois on July 10th over Burr Oak Cemetery, which had been double-selling burial, plots and, often digging up buried corpses and simply dumping them in a field. The cemetery was owned by absentee owners who live in Texas, (according to Channel 7, ABC affiliate, whose reporter, Paul Meincke, once reported in the Quad Cities for Channel 4, the CBS affiliate…actually the Channel 7 source said Arizona, but it appears that Texas is accurate). The Tribune reported that the owner since 2001 was Melvin Bryant of Richardson, Texas, President of Perpetual Holdings of Illinois, but his part in the sale was downplayed on the news, with blame falling more at the local level.  Two famous people buried in the cemetery were civil rights martyr Emmet Till and singer Dinah Washington.

The four people who have been arrested and charged and are being held on large bonds ($250,000 and $200,000). They include the woman who ran the cemetery and 3 employees: Keith Nicks, Terrence Nicks and Maurice Daily. Former cemetery manager Carolyn Towns, 49, foreman Keith Nicks, 45, and dump-truck operator Terrence Nicks, 39, are all of Chicago, and back-hoe operator Maurice Dailey, 59, is from Robbins. They were each charged with dismembering a human body, a Class X felony and face up to 30 years in prison.(www.chicagobreakingnews.com).  Other news reports indicate that it appears that 2 other employees of the cemetery alerted authorities to the crimes being indicated; they are identified only as Employee “A” and Employee “B”.

The images on the evening news were of distraught relatives of those buried in the cemetery showing up in droves, wandering about trying to find evidence of their deceased loved ones. One African American woman showed a small postcard she had received, which, she said, notified her that a second body had been buried atop her mother’s casket in the same grave plot. (Apparently, this did not ring an alarm bell for the grieving relative.)

A hot line was set up for inquiries from out-of-state. In fact, on television, a request was made that relatives not show up at the cemetery at all, as the situation is so uncertain, with potentially more than 300 bodies missing, that it will take months, (if not longer), to sift through the remains of previously buried people whose remnants are being found in a variety of unmarked mass graves with remains even found alongside the roadside of the remote field. Experts who helped identify skeletal remains in mass graves in the Balkans were being brought in to try to help identify the bodies.