Dart wants to block more Burr Oak burials

April 30, 2010 4:30:26 AM PDT
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart may try to block the sale of the Burr Oak Cemetery. Dart says he was stunned to learn that a key component the sale of was to start burying people where the vast majority of bones were found.Dart called that move "insanity" and said he may try to declare the area a crime scene to prevent it.

The sheriff says he is looking at his legal options to try to stop the sale of Burr Oak. Dart says he has no problem with the cemetery being sold, so long as the new owners treat the two areas of the cemetery where investigators found unidentified bones with dignity.

Dart says he is not satisfied with the current plan.

Burr Oak Cemetery encompasses more than 100 acres, but most of the misplaced gravesites and unearthed remains are located in two smaller areas, including nine acres on the north end of the grounds. Those areas are at the heart of the criminal investigation -- and where Sheriff Dart says should be the site of a memorial, not more burials.

"To be talking about thousands of burials, specifically in the area where we found thousands of bones, is absolutely insane," Dart said.

But that is apparently part of the deal Lafayette Gatling and Willie Carter made with Perpetua Incorporated, the bankrupt current owners of the cemetery. The two have offered $1 million to buy Burr Oak and Cedar Park cemeteries -- on the condition that they be allowed to perform burials on the north end of Burr Oak. The potential buyers offered reassurances earlier this week.

"I hope they can now pick up the pieces and move forward and trust us to do a wonderful job and a good job they rightfully deserve out at those cemeteries," Lafayette Gatling said Tuesday.

The sheriff, however, doubts that's possible, especially if the new buyers plan more burials on the site where four cemetery employees have been charged with unearthing remains and reselling burial plots.

The new owners offered no response as of Thursday evening, likely leaving it up to attorneys to hash out.

"We are examining all of our legal options," Sheriff Dart said. "Our hope is that common sense and decency will prevail."

A spokesperson for Dart says, after he spoke to the media, detectives were called back out to Burr Oak. Crews were digging a new grave for a family that had paid for a specific plot, and apparently, found another casket already buried there.

The sheriff says that's not the first time that has happened, and he expects it will happen again, which sums up his opposition to this sale.


Load Comments