Thursday, July 09, 2009

Real Life "Horror In the Burying Ground"

{He} had been the village undertaker ... a very calloused and primitive specimen ... the practices I heard attributed to him would be unbelievable ... and ... {they} would have shuddered ... had ... known the ... ethics ... in such debatable matters ... distinctly ... insensitive, and professionally undesirable ... --- Excerpt from: In The Vault, HPL

Breaking News:

(Near Chicago) ALSIP, Ill. (AP) — Three gravediggers and a cemetery manager unearthed hundreds of corpses from a historic black cemetery south of Chicago, dumping some in a weeded areas and double-stacking others in existing graves, in an elaborate scheme to resell the plots. All were charged with felonies.

Frantic relatives of the deceased descended on Burr Oak Cemetery — the final resting place of lynching victim Emmett Till and blues singers Willie Dixon and Dinah Washington — in hopes someone could tell them their loved ones' remains were not among the pile of bones that littered a remote area of the property in Alsip, 12 miles south of Chicago.

"This is a mess. We can't find our people," said Ralph Gunn, 54, of Chicago. Others cried and clutched cemetery maps as they waited for a chance to look themselves. They listened as Sheriff Tom Dart said the displacement of bodies "was not done in a very delicate way," and that remains were dumped haphazardly, littered with shards of coffins. For graves stacked on top of each other, Dart said it appears they "pounded the other one down and put someone on top."

A visibly shaken Rev. Jesse Jackson voiced the mounting anger at those who would toss the bones of the dead like trash. "In my judgment, there should be a special place in hell for these graveyard thieves who have done so much, hurt these families," he said.

By late afternoon, orange flags marking grave sites that might have been disturbed could be seen throughout the 150-acre cemetery, where as many as 1,000 burials are held a year. FBI agents would help sort through evidence and identify bodies and it could be months before investigators fully understand what took place.

"I feel betrayed and violated," said Gregory Mannie, 54, a Chicagoan with four relatives buried at Burr Oak. Mannie was particularly worried about his grandmother, whose grave is in a more secluded area he did not visit as often as the others. He grew suspicious when he saw it Thursday — it seemed too clean.

"It's almost like killing them all over again," Mannie said.

The suspects, all of whom are black, were identified as Carolyn Towns, 49, Keith Nicks, 45, and Terrence Nicks, 39 — all of Chicago — and Maurice Dailey, 61, of Robbins. They each have been charged with one count of dismembering a human body, a felony.

Authorities said Towns also pocketed donations she elicited for an Emmett Till memorial museum.

The investigation was prompted, when a groundskeeper discovered skeletal remains in the part of the cemetery that wasn't supposed to be used, and cemetery officials notified Alsip police.

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