Posted on July 10, 2009. Filed under: News And Politics... |

UPDATED:  July 10, 2009 11:02 PM (My original post follows my update)
Here’s more up-to-date info on this story…
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Just when I thought news couldn’t get any worse, I hear this gruesome story tonight…
Dozens of graves were dug up and bodies dumped in a massive pile at the historic Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, IL.  Four workers at Burr Oak are accused of conducting off-the-book burials and pocketing the cash.  The cemetery owners went to authorities with the allegations about six weeks ago after an employee not involved in the scheme told them colleagues were doing burials on the side and using occupied grave sites, and discarding the bodies already in the graves.  It’s not yet known if they were in on these despicable crimes.

"One of the things they attempted to dobut we can’t rule a lot of things completely in or out yetwas to pick graves where individuals had been buried here for quite a while, where individuals had not come and visited in quite a while.  Those were the primary ones it seems as if they targeted," said Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart.  "They would excavate the entire burial cast, the concrete structure that the casket would go into, they would lift the whole thing up and then that would be smashed, along with other things."  It is believed the operation had been going on for four to five years.  The owners have been in charge of the cemetery for the past six years.

Prosecutors said 200 to 300 bodies were dug up and dumped in an isolated, weedy area of the cemetery at which many prominent blacks are buried, including civil rights icon Emmet Till (I’ve included his photo below).  Thankfully, Till’s plot was not disturbed.  Exposed bones, chunks of concrete and broken coffins litter the hilly, overgrown area about four blocks long, authorities said.

Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955, is considered a civil rights hero. He is buried at Burr Oak.
Former cemetery manager Carolyn Towns, 49, foreman Keith Nicks, 45, and dump-truck operator Terrence Nicks, 39, all of Chicago, and back-hoe operator Maurice Dailey, 59, of Robbins, were each charged with dismembering human bodies, a Class X felony.  All face up to 30 years in prison.  Towns pocketed donations she elicited for an Emmett Till memorial museum.  She has not been charged in connection with those allegations.  These people will burn in hell for what they’ve been doing.

I was talking to my husband when this story came on the news tonight.  I was so shocked by the magnitude of this crime that I cried for these poor souls.  Nobody deserves that kind of treatment.  How dispicable and heartless can these people be to cut up corpses for their own gain?  What kind of person is capable of such heinous acts?  Then the news reporter said that Jesse Jackass said there’s "a special place in hell" for those accused of digging up graves, all I could say is…What?  Well, that soft comment coming from the king of racism means that it was blacks who did these despicable crimes, then I really got upset.  Is that all Jackass has to say?  People of his own race, and he’s not outraged?  Had this been white people carrying on these vicious crimes, he would have wanted their heads on a platter.  Why is it that when it’s black-on-black crime, it isn’t seen as a hate crime?  Why is it that it doesn’t cause other blacks to riot in the streets for justice?  This is the most hateful of crimes, yet he’s not calling out for justice on behalf of the black community.  Where’s his other half-wit, Al Crapton, during all of this?  Oh, right.  It’s black-on-black crime, plus there are no celebrities and glitz involved.  Al Crapton grandstanded with all the celebrities and talked through his butt on the podium at Michael Jackson’s memorial, but I guess money and fame means more to him that the very people he is supposed to support and speak out for—poor blacks.  This shows me the caliber of these two idiots.  They aren’t even worth the dirt on the ground as far as I’m concerned.  I was relieved that it wasn’t orchestrated by white people because blacks would have torn up every cemetery that held a white body, and you know it as well as I do that would have happened.  As I’ve said a hundred times before, racial hatred will never go away because of blacks like Jackass and Crapton who spew it all the time when it involves white people.  I see white people embracing and accepting blacks all the time.

This isn’t the 60s, there’s no more sitting at the back of the bus, for crying out loud!  Blacks like Jackass and Crapton don’t want to be equal; they want to be superior.  It seems to me that they don’t want the black community to excel.  That would mean that they wouldn’t have a hold on them like they both do now.  If blacks would only stop listening to the likes of Jackass and Crapton and think for themselves, they’d see that white people accept them just the way they are.  The only racism is the racism created by Crapton and Jackass.  Blacks need to let go of their anger.  They need to stop depending on our government as well, and start depending upon each other.  They’d see that they can have a good life without the constant racism pitfalls put upon them by these two quacks.  Only then will they be able to stand up and be the men and women that God created them to be…

"Special Place in Hell" for Grave Robbers

Four charged in elaborate off-the-books scheme

Updated 5:42 PM CDT, Thu, Jul 9, 2009


Carolyn Towns, Keith Nicks, Terrence Nicks and Maurice Dailey have all been charged with dismembering bodies.

 (View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video)



The Rev. Jesse Jackson says there’s "a special place in hell" for those accused of digging up graves.

Hundreds of families are flocking to the historic cemetery in Alsip to find out what has happened to their loved ones’ remains. 

Investigators at Burr Oak Cemetery are shocked by what they found — headstones piled up and bones littering the ground — in a scheme to make cash by…

The Burr Oak Cemetery was for a time the only cemetery where Black people could be buried in Chicago.

His remarks echo those of the hundreds of family members that flocked to the historic Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip after investigators discovered that as many as 300 bodies had been dug up and dumped so the burial plots could be resold.

The office manager of the cemetery is being called the mastermind of the whole scheme.  She allegedly worked with three  gravediggers.

Charged are:

Carolyn Towns, 49, of the 7500 block of South Yates in Chicago
Keith D. Nicks, 45, of the 900 block of West 129th Place in Chicago
Terrence D. Nicks, 39, of the 12800 block of South Morgan in Chicago
Maurice S. Dailey, 59, of the 13300 block of South Kildare in Robbins

All have been charged with dismembering bodies  — a Class X felony — because the graves were dug up with backhoes and the bodies haphazardly discarded.

Bond for Towns was set at $250,000. The other three had bond set at $200,000 each.  None posted bond after their court appearances Thursday and were booked into the Cook County Jail. 

Towns is being held in Cermak Hospital’s psychiatric unit.  Keith Nicks is being held in a medical unit due to a previous arm injury.  Terrence Nicks and Maurice Dailey are being held in maximum security.  All are being held in protective custody, which means they are in cells by themselves and can only leave their cells alone while being escorted by an officer, per an order by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

In addition to the gravedigging scheme, Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez also said Towns pocketed donations she elicited for an Emmett Till memorial museum. She has not been charged in connection with those allegations.

Till was a Chicago boy whose murder in 1955 was a touchstone moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.   His body was exhumed in 2005, as part of the investigation into his murder, before being re-buried in the same location.  Also buried at Burr Oak are boxing great Ezzard Charles and blues legends Willie Dixon and Dinah Washington.

The prosecutor’s statement details the discovery of relocated bodies as follows:

On June 3, a Cook County Sheriff’s detective, met a Burr Oak groundskeeper at the cemetery. The groundskeeper – referred to in the document only as Employee A – has worked at the cemetery since April 2008.

He told the detective that he had discovered misplaced bones when he went to a vacant part of the property to practice using a backhoe. He said he went to that area "because it was not used for burials and therefore he would not disrupt any gravesites."

On several occasions, the groundskeeper unearthed what he believed were human skeletal remains, which he would quickly cover back up. He said he spoke with a senior groundskeeper about this, but that groundskeeper wouldn’t answer his question and simply told him to stop excavating in that part of the cemetery.

The groundskeeper said he spoke with another person who works at the cemetery about finding the bones and that person – Employee B – said it was a common occurrence: "EMPLOYEE B said that sometimes during transportation a bone will fall off the back of the truck and land on the ground or along the roadway."

Employee A told the detective that eventually, he saw Keith Nicks, Terrence Nicks and Dailey excavate an occupied grave site then use a backhoe to smash open the grave’s cement liner: "Once the liner and contents were in pieces, they would remove it with the back-hoe, place it in the dump truck, and transport it to the dump area."

The groundskeeper said he had also seen the men removing a coffin and its cement liner, digging the hole deeper, replacing the old coffin and liner then placing a new liner on top of it, one that could then be used for another coffin. These were called "Double Stack" burials, and both Employee A and Employee B said they were a common occurrence.

Employee A took the detective to the area where the bodies were kept. They walked to a rectangular, weed-covered area in the northwest part of the cemetery, bordered on three sides by a six-foot chain link fence. Outside the fence to the west is Cicero Avenue, to the north is 123rd Street and to the east is a residential area.

The patch of weeds and mud slopes higher than the rest of the property. Looking at the crushed chunks of cement and other supplies lying around the area, the detective assumed the space was used for storage.

Then the groundskeeper showed the detective what appeared to be a human lower jawbone, teeth intact. It was lying on top of the soil, no skull in sight.

Evidence technicians made a preliminary search of the area and collected 29 bones scattered across what the employee said was called the "dump area."

On June 4, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that all of the bones were human.

Authorities urged anyone who donated money to the Till fund or has family members at Burr Oak to contact the Sheriff’s office by phone — 800-942-1950, Option 4.  Authorities have also created an e-mail account to receive inquiries:  burroakcemeteryinvestigation@gmail.com.



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