Burr Oak Cemetery Opening Online Records Database

08/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ALSIP, Ill. (AP) -- Authorities plan to give the public access to a searchable online database of nearly 100,000 graves at the historic black cemetery where four people are accused of digging up graves to resell the plots.

The Cook County sheriff's office says the database will likely be available later this week.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Patterson says it was created using existing records from Burr Oak Cemetery and county death certificates. Patterson says anyone with relatives buried at Burr Oak is urged to gather their own records to help in the effort.

Burr Oak is the burial place of civil rights-era lynching victim Emmett Till and several other prominent African-Americans. It was closed earlier this month after authorities charged the four employees accused in the grave-selling scheme with dismembering a human body.

Nearly 300 graves are believed to have been disturbed.