Three gravediggers and a cemetery manager have dug up bodies from their graves at a historical Black cemetery located south of Chicago. They are currently facing felony charges.
According to authorities, more than 100 graves have been dug up.
The group, allegedly lead by the former manager, developed a scheme where they would be able to make a profit, off the books, through selling grave plots. According to authorities, they dug corpses from their graves and dumped them in weeded areas or double-stacked the bodies in other graves.
The suspects, all of whom are unfortunately Black, were identified as Carolyn Towns, 49, Keith Nicks, 45, and Terrence Nicks, 39, all from Chicago, and Maurice Dailey, 61, of Robbins, IL. They each have been charged with one count of dismembering a human body.
Authorities added that Towns had pocketed donations that were meant for an Emmett Till memorial museum. She has yet to be charged with those allegations, but it has been documented that she was fired from the cemetery in late May with ongoing allegations that she was involved in financial wrongdoing
Investigations began close to six weeks ago when a call was received from the owners of the cemetery, according to Cook County authorities. A groundskeeper had reported that skeletal remains were found in areas they weren’t suppose to be.
Families have scrambled in search of the graves of their family members located at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. Some have ventured to find that their relative’s graves were untouched, but unfortunate others were unable to find the bodies of their deceased family members.
Sheriff Tom Dart stated that most of the excavations happened in the back lots as the plots were older and weren’t frequently visited.
This cemetery is the resting place for people such as Emmett Till, blues singers Wiilie Dixon and Dinah Washington and some Negro League baseball players. According to groundskeepers, the grave site of Till, who was lynched at the age of 14 which aided in the spark for the civil rights movement, has not been disturbed.
Authorities have been placed in quite a bind as they are now forced to locate the families who are unaware and inform them that their relative’s body was removed from their grave. They must also track down the people who purchased these plots under the influence that they were vacant.
The cemetery manager, Towns, has had a bond set for $250,000. The other three have a bond set at $200,000.