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New Plans And Memorial For Burr Oak Cemetery

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Burr Oak Cemetery

A flag marks a grave at Burr Oak Cemetery near a blue dumpster behind which a pile of human remains were found July 8, 2009 in Alsip. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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ALSIP, Ill. (CBS) — Rasheda Ali Walsh says she was shocked to hear that bodies were dug up and plots were resold at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, the daughter of Muhammad Ali says she was drawn to the cemetery because she knew a family friend who was buried there.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

“It resonated with me personally and I felt that I really needed to restore dignity to people, to (family friend) Ezzard’s family and others that are buried there,” Walsh said.

Burr Oak trustee and retired judge Patricia Brown Holmes says the cemetery are already taking bids to improve roads and landscaping. A new memorial will be up sometime this year.

“Make it a peaceful and serene location that families that can go to pray or reflect on their loved ones,” said Holmes.
Besides the memorial, an essay contest for middle and high school students was announced to help people rediscover the cemetery’s rich history.

Burr Oak was rocked by scandal in 2009 when it was discovered that the previous managers were reselling graves and had dug up and dumped older remains in order to put new ones in.

Cemetery director Carolyn Towns admitted to accepting cash from the families of the recently deceased who sought to secure graves, then pocketing the money and have the gravediggers bury the bodies in graves that were already occupied.

Bodies were found stacked on top of each other, and some were dumped in a wooded area behind the cemetery.

Towns is now serving a 12-year prison sentence.

Cemetery foreman Keith Nicks, and laborers Terrence Nicks and Maurice Dailey, have been charged with doing the dirtywork in the scheme.

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