Burr Oak Cemetery: Thousands Of Bodies Over Capacity

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If the prospect of graves being dug up, double-stacked and destroyed was not unsettling enough, the Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Burr Oak Cemetery desecration was even worse than many, including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, had thought: the graveyard was thousands of bodies over capacity.

The AP obtained a study from Cook County Sheriff's Police Monday that showed the extent of the damage at the Alsip cemetery, they reported Tuesday:

"According to the study, records indicate between 140,190 and 147,568 people are buried at Burr Oak, while an analysis of maps of the property reveal the maximum number of graves the cemetery can hold is about 138,000.

The study suggests that the practice of stacking caskets on top of each other or simply discarding remains was more common at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip than anyone suspected, law enforcement officials said."

"No one had their arms around how bad this problem was," Sheriff Tom Dart said in response to the study.

Three gravediggers and a cemetery manager were charged in the desecration and have since been released from jail on bond.

The new findings may hamper Perpetua-Burr Oak Holdings of Illinois, which has been trying to sell the space as a working cemetery with more space for graves.

Read the AP story here.