Graves Desecrated for Profit at Famous Black Chicago Cemetery

Burr Oak Cemetery, a famous black cemetery, is where Emmit Till, and other famous black people from different fields are buried, and is now the focus of a trial where the cemetery manager had coffins and bones dug up out of graves, resold the graves, and pocketed the money on the side.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 05:19PM
An FBI agent testified told jurors that 1,500 bone fragments were found at Burr Oak Cemetery. Keith and Terrence Nicks are accused of desecrating graves and bodies in a scandal that exploded in the summer of 2009.

Their trials began Wednesday. Keith Nicks was the foreman of the grounds crew. He hired his brother, Terrence, to help out.

Prosecutor Eric Leafblad told jurors the Nicks were part of a crew of cemetery workers who “broke up tombs, crushed caskets, dug up body parts and dumped them like garbage.”

During the month-long investigation at Burr Oak, more than 1,500 bones were recovered. They belonged to at least 29 people.
FBI evidence expert Doug Seccombe walked jurors through the items he and his team found on-site. He showed photos of jawbones and other human remains, as well as broken caskets and burial tombs.

“Burr Oak Cemetery was becoming full, soon there would be no more new burials and that presented a problem for the people who worked there… soon their jobs would be over,” Leafblad said.

The scandal exploded in the summer of 2009. The historic black cemetery is where Emmitt Till and several sports legends are buried.

Carolyn Towns, who was the cemetery manager, pleaded guilty to selling burial plots off the books and pocketing the money.

Read more here

You can learn more about Burr Oaks and it’s historical significance here


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