Investigation continues at Burr Oak

July 24, 2009 4:18:18 PM PDT
No double burials should have taken place at Burr Oak without permission from families involved.That's the word from the court-appointed operator of Burr Oak Cemetery where four workers are accused of conducting off the books burials and pocketing the cash.

It's an important development that may help investigators determine the size and scope of crimes committed at Burr Oak.

Investigators say two scenarios played out at Burr Oak. The first saw caskets dug up and their contents dumped. The other was double burials.

In some cemeteries, the least expensive gravesites come with the caveat that after 20 or so years, the cemetery is allowed to bury a second or third person in that plot. But apparently so-called term graves were not sold at Burr Oak.

In addition to backhoes, shovels and dirt sifters, forensics teams are now using thermal imaging devices at Burr Oak Cemetery. They scan the ground and can determine whether more than one casket is buried beneath the ground.

On Friday, an attorney for the court appointed operator of Burr Oak said if non-relatives were buried in the same plot, it could be evidence of crime.

"What we've seen so far is no indication of term graves, that doesn't mean it's impossible, it's just something we haven't seen evidence of so far," said Jim Geoly, Burr Oak Cemetery receiver's attorney.

"I've not been involved in any double burials at Burr Oak," said Trudi Foushee, Burr Oak owner's attorney, operator.

Trudi Foushee is an attorney who ran Burr Oak Cemetery for its owners until earlier this month. She said, as far as she knows, non-familial double burial plots were not sold at the cemetery.

"If somebody were to be interred over that they would," said Foushee.

The problem, according to law enforcement sources, is that without through records detailing who's buried where, determining when a double burial was permissible, and when it was done for profit is proving difficult.

"For many of the bodies right now they do not know who is underneath a particular patch of grass with no markers. That is a huge problem," said Blake Horwitz, attorney.

Following a meeting in the Governor's Office, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and a group of local funeral directors said they believe multiple crimes were committed at Burr Oak. And double burials weren't the worst of them.

"Excavating a casket and vault... that is the crime at Burr Oak," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow-PUSH Coalition.


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