WBEZ | Burr Oak Cemetery http://www.wbez.org/tags/burr-oak-cemetery Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff's office criticizes new cemetery rules signed by Quinn http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriffs-office-criticizes-new-cemetery-rules-signed-quinn-96167 <p><p>Some regulations on cemeteries in Illinois will soon be scaled back. On Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that reduces licensing fees and penalties for some infractions.</p><p>A few years ago, the state legislature passed stricter regulations after it was discovered workers at Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago's south suburbs were digging up bodies and then reselling the plots.</p><p>"The individuals that did the horrific tragedy at Burr Oak, the way that this language is currently written and passed and signed now, would allow them to come back to work at Burr Oak without any questions," said Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.</p><p>Dart's office investigated the scandal at Burr Oak.</p><p>Bilecki criticized parts of the new law, saying employees at cemeteries should have to get background checks.</p><p>Meanwhile, supporters of the measure say the penalties were too burdensome on cemeteries that did nothing wrong.</p><p>State Sen. Emil Jones, III, a Chicago Democrat, said the new law will be good for smaller cemeteries, many of which are run by municipalities or not-for-profit groups.</p><p>"Cemeteries are modest enterprises, they're not cash cows," Jones said. "For a lot of rural areas and smaller towns you have volunteers who come in and work at the cemetery. They should not have to go through the process of being fingerprinted and going through a background check."</p><p>Burr Oak Cemetery is in Jones's senate district.</p></p> Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriffs-office-criticizes-new-cemetery-rules-signed-quinn-96167 Illinois Senate votes to undo cemetery regulations http://www.wbez.org/story/burr-oak-cemetery/illinois-senate-votes-undo-cemetery-regulations-85255 <p><p>Legislators in Springfield are considering a measure that would undo some cemetery regulations in the state.</p><p>The Illinois Senate approved legislation that would cut back on a statewide task force designated to oversee cemeteries. The bill would also draw back a new requirement that cemeteries must submit burial records into a state database.</p><p>Those procedures were enacted after an investigation into Burr Oak Cemetery in 2009, where Cook County Sheriff's police uncovered an alleged scheme to re-sell burial plots.</p><p>State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, said Burr Oak was one bad apple out of a state of compliant cemeteries.</p><p>"Nothing could've prevented any wrongdoing from what happened at Burr Oak Cemetery," Jones said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Steve Patterson, spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff, said his office is still receiving new complaints about conditions at other cemeteries around Chicago.</p><p>"(The legislation) sort of goes back to a Wild West days where anything goes, including double burials and dumping bodies in the back of a cemetery and we just don't want to see it go back to that," Patterson said.</p><p>The bill still needs approval in the Illinois House.</p></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2011 18:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/burr-oak-cemetery/illinois-senate-votes-undo-cemetery-regulations-85255 Attorneys for Burr Oak fight back against allegations http://www.wbez.org/story/burr-oak-cemetery/attorneys-burr-oak-fight-back-against-allegations-84123 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-23/P1010211.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Attorneys for the company overseeing Burr Oak Cemetery say conditions at the cemetery are not as bad as they're being portrayed.</p><p>Earlier this week, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said a new report from an archaeological group showed more human remains had been found at a portion of the cemetery thought to be available for new burials. Dart said the cemetery is at capacity.</p><p>But attorneys for Perpetua Holdings, the company running Burr Oak, say in a statement released Wednesday the archaeologists' findings aren't new.</p><p>In the statement, the attorneys write, &quot;In the case of a cemetery as old as Burr Oak Cemetery, it is not uncommon for such an area to contain some human and wooden coffin remains. Prior to the use of concrete vaults, these wooden coffins deteriorated very quickly.&quot;</p><p>They say the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago have overseen 400 burials at the cemetery since 2009, when Dart investigated the cemetery for dumping bodies and re-selling plots.</p><p>On Monday, Dart told reporters taht bones and pieces of burnt coffins have been found in an area of the graveyard originally thought to be available for new graves. He said there could be up to 600 bodies improperly buried in that section - double what he originally estimated.</p><p>&quot;That area, as we had said, frankly, a year and a half ago, needs to be treated as a memorial,&quot;&nbsp;Dart said Monday. &quot;That's exactly what needs to be done here. No one in good conscious can go out there and attempt to bury people there.&quot;</p><p>Dart said he doesn't know why some of the coffin pieces were burnt.</p><p>The cemetery has been going through bankruptcy court proceedings to find a new owner.</p><p>Four former Burr Oak employees face criminal charges. All four remain free on bond while awaiting trial.</p></p> Wed, 23 Mar 2011 12:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/burr-oak-cemetery/attorneys-burr-oak-fight-back-against-allegations-84123 Archaeologists find more improper burials at Burr Oak Cemetery http://www.wbez.org/story/archaeologists-uncover-more-bodies-burr-oak-84016 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-21/P1010211.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A new report finds conditions at a south suburban cemetery are worse than expected.<br />&nbsp;<br />Archaeologists examined Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip. That&rsquo;s where Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s officials in 2009 uncovered an alleged scheme in which workers dug up graves and resold the plots.<br /><br />In a letter to the sheriff&rsquo;s office, archaeologists report bodies were buried in a Burr Oak corner thought to be unused. Officials had thought the corner could be used for new burials, but Sheriff Tom Dart said Monday the archaeologists found bones and pieces of burnt coffins in an area of the graveyard thought to be available for new graves.<br /><br />Dart said he thinks up to 600 bodies could be improperly buried in that section &mdash; double what he had estimated.<br /><br />&ldquo;That area, as we had said, frankly, a year and a half ago, needs to be treated as a memorial,&rdquo; Dart told reporters. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s exactly what needs to be done here. No one in good conscious can go out there and attempt to bury people there.&rdquo;<br /><br />Dart said he doesn&rsquo;t know why some of the coffin pieces were burnt.<br /><br />He said Burr Oak is at capacity.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s our hope that this report, once and for all, makes clear that if you dig at any level in these areas, you&rsquo;re going to find human bones, pieces of coffins and God knows what else,&rdquo; Dart said in a written statement.<br /><br />The cemetery is going through bankruptcy and trying to find a new owner. A lawyer for the company overseeing Burr Oak said Dart&rsquo;s claims were inaccurate, but he wouldn&rsquo;t comment further.<br /><br />Meanwhile, four Burr Oak workers face charges of criminal wrongdoing. All four remain free on bond while awaiting trial.</p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/archaeologists-uncover-more-bodies-burr-oak-84016