Evidence of illegal double burials at Burr Oak

July 31, 2009 8:42:40 PM PDT
Investigators uncover what they call the first evidence of illegal double burials at Burr Oak Cemetery.On Friday, they exhumed three different grave sites.

It's early evening and this is the third exhumation of the day at Burr Oak. A fractured vault lid is lifted. A sheriff's investigator video tapes. There is no casket in the vault, but there is a body propped in a sitting position against a vault wall.

At another plot earlier in the day, a vault is removed and investigators find a second vault buried beneath it.

"There is supposed to be one person in the ground at that location. Instead, we found two vaults, one on top of the other with an individual that we aren't quite clear who that person is underneath," said Sheriff Tom Dart. Cook County.

There is now hard evidence of double burials at Burr Oak. And as a criminal investigation continues before her, a woman sits while her late sister is reburied.

At a third location, investigators uncover what are to be the burial vaults for a husband and wife. The husband's body is there. The wife's vault is empty.

Investigators have learned where to dig based on information from an unidentified worker.

The sheriff says there may be another week of evidence gathering at Burr Oak, but that doesn't mean that the full criminal case will be ready by then.

Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office, says, "the investigation continues. We can't put a time frame on it."

Sheriff's department employees meanwhile are marking and photographing all the cemetery's grave sites for posting on a special Web site for Burr Oak families.

"I personally would have a hard time leaving this location until we put the cemetery in a position to people can come back and visit their loved ones," said Dart.

How soon the cemetery is reopened to the public is a decision not yet made. But at this day's final exhumation site, a new vault lid is lowered into place. The digging is done for now.

Family with loved ones buried at Burr Oak may visit www.burroak.net for more information.


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