One of the men charged with dismembering bodies at Alsip's Burr Oak Cemetery walked out of jail on Thursday evening.
Wearing a striped polo shirt and carrying a bag of his belongings, Maurice Dailey refused to comment as he walked to a waiting mini-van. The woman who picked him up from jail, who refused to identify herself, defended the man many have said deserves "a special place in hell."
"What happened to innocent 'til proven guilty?" she asked. "(Give) your life to Christ, how about that? What happened to mercy when he died on the cross for everybody? What about that?"
The 59-year-old gravedigger from Robbins, along with Carolyn Towns, Keith Nicks and Terrence Nicks, were arrested earlier this month, accused of using backhoes to dig up graves and haphazardly discarding the interred bodies so the plots could be resold.
Nearly 300 graves have been found to be disturbed, with more discovered each day, Cook County Sheriff Dart said. Since the investigation began, nearly 200 bones and bone fragments have been collected.
Dailey's release comes on the on the same day as the inaugural meeting of the new Illinois Cemetery Oversight Task Force, which is responsible for examining operations at all Illinois cemeteries and making recommendations about regulating the industry. They're expected to submit a report to Gov. Pat Quinn by Sept. 15.
Often called the first African-American cemetery in Chicago, Alsip's Burr Oak Cemetery has a storied past and is the final resting place for several notables, including boxing great Ezzard Charles and blues legends Willie Dixon and Dinah Washington. Emmett Till, whose murder in the south was a touchstone moment in the American Civil Rights Movement, is also buried there.
Ministers of several faiths got a distanced-view of the investigation site on Wednesday when they were brought in to reconsecrate the grounds.
Burr Oak has been closed to the public since July 10, when it was labeled as a crime scene.