In 2009, a massive grave desecration scandal was uncovered at Burr Oak Cemetery in suburban Alsip. Graves were dug up, double-stacked and destroyed. The destruction was allegedly part of an elaborate scheme to resell the plots by a cemetery manager and three workers, who have all been charged. Now, a team of archaeologists say there are even more bodies on cemetery grounds.
According to the site survey done by Chicago-based Archaeological Research Inc., human remains and "associated materials" are buried all over the cemetery, even where new owners hoped to conduct future burials or build a mausoleum, according to a release from the Cook County Sheriff's office. The 5.9 acre corner of the cemetery, described as "Crime Scene A" in the survey, had reportedly been used in the past to store broken headstones, branches, leaves and other debris. The new owners reportedly did not expect bodies to be found in the area.
The report confirmed Sheriff Dart's previous suspicions that the cemetery was at capacity.
"It's our hope that this report, once and for all, makes clear that if you dig at any level in these areas, you're going to find human bones, pieces of coffins and God knows what else," Dart said in a statement. "We know this cemetery likely reached its capacity years ago, so any digging for graves already paid for is being done with the utmost of caution. But even with those, we regularly receive calls asking for our detectives, because something has been discovered."
The ARI study found that cemetery grounds were 12 feet higher in some areas than it should be. Some human remains and coffin pieces were found burned and 8 feet deep, others just below the surface.
"Any future excavations into this spoil area for whatever reason will uncover human remains," the ARI report says. "Therefore, it would not be appropriate to use this area for future burials."
Dart hopes a permanent memorial will be built in the section of the cemetery known as "Crime Scene A" for "those whose final resting place was disturbed as a result of criminal activity," according to a release from the sheriff's office.
Former Burr Oak Cemetery manager Carolyn Towns and workers Keith Nicks, Terrence Nicks and Maurice Dailey are free on bond awaiting trial on charges of dismembering a human body.