2005 Police Reports Filled With Human Bone References

Alsip Police Chief reopens investigation

By Phil Rogers and BJ Lutz
|  Thursday, Aug 6, 2009  |  Updated 7:09 PM CDT
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Alsip Police are re-opening their investigation of the discovery of bones four years ago at the scandal-plagued Burr Oak Cemetery, with Chief Christopher Radz saying he would be "remiss" if he didn't.

The move comes after newly-obtained police records show that a number of public agencies, including the Alsip Police Department, the Cook County Highway Department, and the offices of the comptroller and the medical examiner were all aware of the bones on the ground and could have uncovered over four years ago what was going on at the historic cemetery.

Subcontractors with Commonwealth Edison on Tuesday said they were moving power lines along Cicero Avenue in 2005 when they came across bones on the ground.

"Actually we saw arms, legs, sticking out of the ground," Russ Bausone said.

Those men said they called police, but the Alsip police reports from the incident suggest it was Alsip who initiated contact after it was learned that one of the members of that construction crew had taken a skull back to his hotel room.

However the dialogue started, what remains as fact is that the police reports are filled with references to human bones.

"A search of the site revealed skeletal remains that had been unearthed and spread over various dirt mounds," one officer wrote in a March 17, 2005 report.

The following day, another investigator noticed multiple mounds of dirt, noting "the piles contained some concrete pieces of previous vaults, some marble pieces and a number of bones."

Those bones are in the very spot where agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers from the Cook County Sheriff's Police continue their daunting and macabre task, a week after four former employees were charged in an off-the-books money-making scheme at the historic cemetery.

At the time, investigators held a meeting with the now-jailed cemetery manager, Carolyn Towns, as well as construction companies and the Cook County Highway Department.

As a result of that meeting, held at Towns' office at Burr Oak, the group reasoned that grading operations could have unearthed the bones, or that they possibly came from an unmarked grave or were carried in by animals.

The agencies, convinced that nothing was amiss, gave the bones back, and Towns wrote a letter promising that if any other bones were found, they would be handled with dignity and respect.

In his report, a deputy chief says, "another grave was opened, and all remains were reinterred."

Those remains, he said, "had no police interest as a recent crime."

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