Bodies Stacked 8 Deep At Cemetery

UPDATED 02/17/11 6:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County sheriff’s officials have found bodies stacked on top of each other – some buried eight at a time — at a south suburban cemetery.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says Homewood Memorial Gardens, at 600 Ridge Rd. in Homewood, desecrated the bodies of people who couldn’t afford to purchase burial plots.

Dart says he is appalled and disgusted about the indigent burials. The bodies were layered as many as eight high before they began decomposing on top of one another.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

The identities of the people in the indigent burial area are largely unknown. But even if someone were looking for their loved-ones, there would be no way to find them, Dart said.

“We have been informed people are buried eight deep out there,” Dart said. “There is no rhyme or reason. There is no grid system. You couldn’t find people if you wanted to find them.”

Homewood Memorial Gardens told CBS 2 they keep records for all indigent burials and provided a glimpse of records from 1980 all the way to 2011.  Index cards show each person’s burial lot and row number.

When CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot asked employee Kelly McCarthy if an indigent person’s burial spot could be located, she said, “Yes, within a foot of each way.”

The cemetery’s owner spoke to CBS 2 by phone. He says there’s nothing in his current county contract that says coffins of the indigent can’t be stacked on top of each other for burial.  He says it’s a question of economics. It costs $239 for an indigent burial.  A single plot costs $2,200 per person.

But Dart said the practices are a violation of the cemetery’s contract with county government to bury indigent people

“From a law enforcement we were disturbed,” he said. “From a human standpoint, we were absolutely appalled.”

The practice echoes the headline-grabbing scandal two years ago at another south suburban cemetery.

At Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Dart’s office found piles of bones, old caskets and vaults dumped on trash heaps at the back of the property. They were dumped as part of an alleged plot to resell grave plots at the historic cemetery.

But even though Gov. Pat Quinn approved new state regulations for cemetery oversight last year, Dart said he saw the latest problems at Homewood Memorial Gardens about a month ago.

Dart said thousands of bodies have been stacked for burial since the cemetery won the contract for indigent burials in 1980.

mass burial casket Bodies Stacked 8 Deep At Cemetery

A wooden casket containing unclaimed remains. (Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office)

He also said unidentified limbs and bones examined by law enforcement authorities were turned over to the cemetery, which simply dumped them into the coffins of babies whose parents were indigent. Sometimes, the bodies have been mixed with animal parts before being tossed into the mounds.

Dart said there is nothing requiring law enforcement agencies to take DNA samples before turning bodies over to cemeteries. He said this is a shame, given that there are dozens of cold case homicides in Cook County which at any point could be tied to the bodies stacked in the burial ground.

Dart is calling for new state legislation that calls for changes in some burial practices that will make investigations easier.

He said given that there are only about 250 indigent burials a year, there is no reason why they cannot be handled properly and respectfully.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • FR

    There is a money shortage, dead people don’t care.

    • Michael Spurlock

      I guess we shouldn’t expect decency of people from Illinois.

      They’re Obamatrons, after all.

      • Rowwdy

        You are 100% correct Michael.

      • helloseekers

        Can’t blame you for making that gneralization. However, I am not an obamatron-I am, frankly, ashamed of him.

      • Brad

        Bet they all voted!

      • davec

        Three times. And realize the “people buried in THIS part of the cemetary have just as much right to vote as those over there”

      • proudnot2bliberal

        RE: Brad “Bet they all voted!”

        of course the dead voted its illinois and of course they voted multiple times

    • Brian


      • kels

        Make sure FR, Brian and DONTCARE all get buried there when they die, too, since it doesn’t matter.

      • SuckitKels

        Why don’t they just burn all the bodies though seriously?

    • Linz

      Not to worry,……….they all will be voting for Rahm Dead Fish for mayor……..3 times.

    • Bob Smith

      I wonder if the they have received many complaints from the deceased.

      • Chicago NIck

        Actually, they only come out usually every election, I’ll bet each one voted for Obama twice ;) Emmanuel’s gonna lose a shiiitteload of votes now…

    • Mark

      why are people so upset about this ? The bodies were just waiting to VOTE…..Vote early vote often…..the Chicago way….

      • Paul

        Funny and very true!

      • Brian

        Right, 8 bodies stacked in a grave = Cook County Vertical Voting Booth. Talk about straight ticket voting!

    • Ceeb

      It’s Bush’s fault…

    • readmylips

      Is anyone surprised? This is Chicago. In Chicago, everything is o.k. and above the law.

    • Schecky

      “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
      – Isaac Asimov

    • Maria

      Yes, however the county pays full price for individual burials, the cemetary pockets the money and then performs the burials on the “cheap”.

      • midwestnorwegian

        Does it cost more to bury indigent people correctly? No. This isn’t about the funeral director and their costs.

      • readingcomprehensionforthewin

        midwestnorwegian, did you not read the article? It says plainly that a regular urial is almost 10 times as pricey as an indigent.

      • Jay_N

        As a funeral home employee I can assure you, the county pays FAR less than cost.

      • Scott

        Where in the article did it say the County paid full price? If it’s not specified in the contract, they have the right to do what is economically best for them as long as they abide by the contract. The people are dead and their deaths didnt mean anything to the living or they would not have been buried by the County, they would have been buried by their loved ones. Their soul has departed so it doesn’t really matter what happens to the vessel that carried it.

      • Carl

        It’s spelled cemetery. No “a”

    • democratsarefascists

      Spoken like an Illinois Communist.

    • McSorley

      Agreed… The city thinks its gonna get first class service for $250 a body …yeah Right!! The city/county is at blame for not doing a 4 hour “should cost” model and awarding the business based on what a proper burial should cost. The City/ County awarded it to the lowest bidder period. Lets all buy 10 cent hamburgers and be shocked at the quality of the meat……

      • Brian

        “Lets all buy 10 cent hamburgers and be shocked at the quality of the meat… ”

        McSorley, I believe you’ve stumbled onto a solution to BOTH problems… 10 cent “hamburgers”, made with Soylent Green. “It’s MORE than a sandwich,… it’s PEOPLE!”

    • Joe Doakes

      Do you have a soul?

      • Stinky McGee

        You don’t have a soul – You are a soul.

      • Harry Russell

        Hey Stinky, You have a body and a soul. The body dies and the soul lives on either in heaven or hell.

    • BRBSanDiego

      It does not matter. These poor people had no monney, no relatives, no worries. Their bodies are dead; if you believe in souls and such nonsense, their “souls” are wherever you think they are. Why wasn’t cremation the option since it only costs about $100 a pop and takes up almost no space. I am being cremated for $150 and scattered at sea by my friends for the cost of boat fuel and a few cases of beer – what is the big Fffffing deal.

    • Jack Kinch(1uncle)

      Is death for profit OK ?


    Why the hell to we waste real estate burying indigents anyhow? Cremate them..

    • Melissa in NorCal

      Totally agree! Burial is for the arrogant. I will take up space and it will cost a lot. Fow what? Rotting meat? The soul (if such a thing exists) is long gone. Not only that, the religious argument that they need their bodies again. If God exists, surely it can remake your body from all the atoms it contains now. Burial is for the weak in faith.

      That said, the coroner should be taking DNA samples before disposal because they might very well solve a cold case later.

      • Chris

        “If God exists”? Sounds like you have some soulserving and things to figure out prior to your death.

      • justfacts

        In the Christian Religion, you do not need your bodies. If you are a dead belliever, God will make you whole again a the time of resurection. I don’t know about other religious beliefs regarding burial.

    • maria

      excellent suggestion!

    • HatenOnJerks

      Because it is proper and, I believe we are a proper society.

      • Lee Reynolds

        “Proper,” what an amazingly vague and subjective criteria.

        Beggars can’t be choosers. I don’t give a rat’s ass what happens to the dead bodies of people who weren’t worth a damn in life. As long as their remains aren’t poisoning the water supply or otherwise posing a risk to others, it doesn’t matter how they are disposed of.

        Cremation sounds like a wonderful solution to me. No more body. No more biohazard from HIV, Hep C or anything else. Just clean ash that can be dumped wherever there is a deep enough hole in the ground.

      • Dour

        Kill two birds with one stone. “Bury” the homeless and then feed the homeless… “Soylent Green”

      • AllAboutdaCreme

        As OoogaBooga mentioned, there is nothing improper, disrespectful, immoral, or unethical about cremation. In fact, some religions and spiritual faiths regard cremation as more appropriate than burial because it allows the soul to more expediently transcend into the next plane of existence rather allow our remains to anchor us down to our past.
        As for the impropriety of our modern society, the funeral industry is an ethically hypocritical and opportunistic racket that thrives on the emotional vulnerability of those suffering through the death of loved ones. That’s not to say we should not bury the dead, but the profit margins a funeral home reaps on the sale of one casket alone is insulting, and if society as a whole were more aware of this we’d be calling our legislators for regulation and begin advocating for funeral norms such as “green burials”, which does not involve the use of toxic chemicals during the embalming process that eventually end up leeching into the earth and water table.
        Speaking of, has anyone on this forum researched the city’s water records? There’s a very interesting report available online with results of the chemicals that do not get purified or filtered out at our exemplary water plants here in Chicago.

      • shovlhd

        What cloud do you reside on?

      • bp184

        Then offer up your personal money to buy them a $2200 burial plot, and another $900 for a headstone. Otherwise cremate them.

      • HarryK

        Why is it “proper”? Because you say so? Because ancients believed it was the gateway to eternal life? Cremate them.

      • morgana99

        Where did this “proper” in relation to burials come from? It’s a made up thing to do, and its totally wasteful. Look at the world today. The proper thing to do is NOT BE WASTEFUL.

    • Jay_N

      Because IF the indigent’s death ever became a questionable case, ie needing a re-verification of ID, foul play, etc, the body can be exhumed and re-examined. Cremation destroys all possible evidence.

      • bp184

        I truely don’t think an overdosed junkie will ever need exhumation to verify that he/she died of an overdose. This is what tha VAST MAJORITY of the indigent bodies are.

      • HarryK

        Waste all that money so 1 case in a million can be investigated? Bad plan.

    • www

      I don’t think you can legally vote in Chicago if you are cremated.

      • Michael Spurlock

        Actually, you can, but only once.

        Naturally, the Democrats have registered each corpse at least eight times, so cremation is out of the question.

      • NOBAMA

        You are correct, you will leave too big of a carbon footprint in the voting booth.

  • OoogaBooga

    Haten, cremation IS a proper burial.
    Stacked under someone and 6 of their friends isn’t.

    Heck, if one HAS to bury them (which is weird and creepy anyway with the bugs and worms and all) bury them standing up! Takes less room. Japanese figured that out long ago.

    • Deborah

      You are the only one who has taken a position that would be so much easier to take…but some of the comments left clearly indicates that too many people are without compassion. Sad that the yuppie mentality is still around…

  • Kathleen

    This is just disgusting! Imagine if it were your family members…Is this what you would want for them? Just because a person doesn’t have money doesn’t mean they deserve to be disrespected like this. What a sick society we live in these days!

    • Bearcat

      Doesn’t seem like their relatives cared about them when they were alive.

    • Melissa in norCal

      If it was good enough for Mozart, it is good emough for me!

    • outliberals

      are you volunteering to pay for the indigents ‘proper’ burial or are you concerned that the family doesnt give a damn about them or are you a llib who wants everyone else to pay your bills and those of your indigent lovers and friends. Tell us please.

    • papafrog

      its just a useless empty husk of carbon based material.. get rid of it and place a memory plaque somewhere nice so people who cared about then can remember. cremation is a good way and safe way to dispose of a body without a lot of fuss and leftovers.

      • J Phelan

        Hmm…maybe we should do this for the living — replace everyone — except the elites of course — with memory plaques? Cremate everyone else living or not in the interest of economy and efficiency.

    • Jimmy Carterputerschmitt

      Disrespected? Most disrespected themselves in life to wind up this way. You can’t fix stupid and you cannot cure all the ills of humanity. It isn’t a sick society, it is life. Life is tough, and its’ tougher when you are stupid. You want to do something about this? Then you pay for the funerals. You get a funeral home and do this all on your own dime. You’ll soon get as ‘sick’ as the people you berate.
      Life is tough for you, isn’t it?

    • Worried Human

      Then YOU pay to have them buryed. Why should the cemetery pay for what THEY couldn’t?


    Who cares.

  • franklin808

    We need higher taxes so that everyone can be buried with dignity.

    • M 1

      It seems to be the logical step after being taxed to death.

      • Richie Daily

        Careful, you;’ll give Rahm an idea for new taxes. Pull their teeth for the gold! An ultimate death tax!

  • yankeefan

    bury them standing up to save sspace? hell of an idea!

  • James

    Our bodies are not who or what We are after death, it matters not what is done with it. Humans are arrogant.

  • JC

    All good Democratic voters in Illinois no doubt……

    • gaspasr

      remember these bodies STILL VOTE in Chicago

      • bostinks2

        Lol…so true

  • thanatos

    Bodies are often stacked in our national cemeteries: husbands and wives will often be stacked in a single plot because the space is just too small to allow each person a plot. Disrespectful? Of course not.

    I would think that there would be a greater danger of cave-in, though, with all of these cheap coffins on top of each other, if buiried 8-deep.

    A decent wood box, buried underground is a decent burial. Everything else… EVERYTHING… a marker, knowing where the space is, how-many deep the boxes may be… ALL of that is a luxury.

  • Jeff Dahmer

    Take em down to the zoo and feed the lions………..

    • Ted Bundy


      • John Gacy

        I have room in my basement.

    • wallyintouch

      The CEO of BP had the idea of finding a way to use the remains as some sort of fossil fuel. The pump dispensing this new fuel would be right along the line of BP’s name, which is Body Parts, get it? BP ROFLMAO

  • justavoter

    That’s the Chicago way. No dignity for human life. Look at what is happening in Washington now. It is so sad that liberal democrats put human life in the same catergory as dog food.

    • Stef

      No dignity for human LIFE? Aren’t we talking about dead people?!?!


    Yes We Can Build a


    • Pogue Mahone

      SI SE PUEDE!

  • sueinmi

    Germans ‘reuse’ their plots. Families ‘lease’ the graves, and of course, if the family doesn’t continue the lease the plot is ‘renewed’ (others buried at the site).

    • AllAboutdaCreme

      This is also true in Mexico City.

  • jnsesq

    There is absolutely nothing about Chicago left untouched by corruption.

  • Becky

    I saw a movie once where the mob rid got rid of their bodies by dumping them in occupied graves. Hmmmm…. anyone check the missing persons lists lately? :-)

  • larryfine

    Buried 8 deep= Democratic voting block

  • jnsesq

    Oh, and more stimulus “shovel ready” jobs, no doubt.

  • james cool

    they finally found the people who voted in the last electon and maybe if they dig deep enough they will find the voters who put jfk in office

  • scboy

    Democrat voters

  • tnmccoy

    The dignity of human life takes another hit, and many of the posters don’t really care. Such a sad commentary on THEIR worth.

  • Xerex

    Pretty much what I was thinking. Makes it easier to dig. Them up when its time to go vote for a democrat.

  • Mannie

    The issue of not taking DNA samples has nothing to do with the cemetary. It has to do with the cop industry wanting more money to pass around to cronies.

    I was disturbed by the video. It shows a serious OSHA violation. The trench sides are vertical, and could collapse on the laborer in the hole, adding an unauthorized corpse to the pile.

    I;ve given strict orders that my corpse is to be mailed to someone we dislike.

  • Tracker

    It’s not a cemetary, it’s a Democratic precinct rally getting ready to go to the polls.

    • bostinks2


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