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Emmett Till Museum Still In Jeopardy At Burr Oak Cemetery

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Emmett Till

Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955, is considered a civil rights hero. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A published report says yet more fallout has erupted from the scandal at historic Burr Oak Cemetery.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Nick Young reports, in 2004, the former manager of Burr Oak made a promise to Mamie Till Mobley — for a museum on the cemetery grounds dedicated to her son — Emmett Till.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nick Young reports

Till was the victim of one of the most infamous lynchings in American history more than a half-century ago.

But two years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, those plans were put on hold when Carolyn Towns was arrested in a scandal involving the desecration of remains and the re-selling of burial plots.

Both Till and his mother are buried at Burr Oak.

The earliest reports on the Burr Oak scandal two years ago indicated that Towns was collecting donations for an Emmett Till Museum, but she was actually pocketing the donations.

Also during the investigation, Emmett Till’s original casket was found rusted and battered in the back of a shack in the cemetery. A family of opossums ran out when Cook County sheriff’s deputies tried to open it, Sheriff Tom Dart said at the time.

Till’s body had been exhumed for a new investigation into his death in 2005, and as is customary, he was not reburied in the same casket.

Towns was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison, after pleading guilty to running a scheme at the cemetery that involved digging up human bodies from graves for resale, and dumping the remains.

She admitted to stealing more than $100,000 from the corporation that operated the Alsip cemetery.
Towns’ arrest, and those of three employees, made international headlines in the summer of 2009. Thousands of people were prompted to visit the historic African-American cemetery to try to determine if their loved ones were among those graves that were disturbed.

Foreman Keith Nicks, and laborers Terrence Nicks and Maurice Dailey, have been charged with doing the dirty work in the scheme. They are set to appear in court this week.

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