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Cemetery scam worse than first believed

March 21, 2011 at 11:37 AM

CHICAGO, March 21 (UPI) -- An archaeologists' report says investigators found bodies were dumped in an unused corner of a suburban Chicago cemetery in greater numbers than first thought.

Burr Oak Cemetery manager Carolyn Towns and several others were charged in July 2009 in an alleged scheme to unearth bodies to make way for new burials, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The site is of special significance to Chicago's African-American community because it was one of the first to allow blacks to bury their loved ones.

The exhumed coffins and bodies were allegedly dumped in an unused corner of the cemetery in numbers far greater than the original investigation found, the newspaper reported.

A bankruptcy judge overseeing the potential sale of the cemetery hired Archaeological Research Inc. of Chicago to survey the area. The company said it found "human remains and associated materials are buried deeply throughout" an area detectives identified as "Crime Scene A."

That part of the cemetery was being advertised as an area for new burials.

"Any future excavations into this spoil area for whatever reason will uncover human remains … therefore, it would not be appropriate to use this area for future burials," the report to Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said.

Dart said the report supports his contention there should be no new burial plots sold at Burr Oak.

Towns and cemetery workers Keith Nicks, Terrence Nicks and Maurice Dailey in 2009 were charged with dismembering human bodies, a Class X felony.

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