Burr Oak Cemetery director pleads guilty

2011-07-08T13:30:00Z 2011-07-08T21:35:22Z Burr Oak Cemetery director pleads guiltyBy Times Staff nwitimes.com
July 08, 2011 1:30 pm  • 

The former director of Burr Oak Cemetery pleaded guilty Friday to profiting from the desecration of hundreds of graves in South Suburban Alsip.

Carolyn Towns, 51, of Blue Island, appeared before Judge Frank Castiglione at the Cook County Courthouse in Bridgeview, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Towns was charged along with gravediggers Maurice Daily, 61, of Robbins; Keith Nicks, 47, of Chicago; and Terrence Nicks, 41, of Chicago.

Towns was convicted of stealing more than $100,000 from Perpetua Inc., the corporation that once operated the graveyard. She accepted cash payments from the families of the recently deceased and kept the money for herself, prosecutors said. Meanwhile she directed the gravediggers to bury the bodies in graves that were already occupied.

Towns pleaded guilty to all the counts in her indictment, which included dismembering a human body, theft from a place of worship, damaging 10 or more gravestones, desecration of human remains, removal of human remains of multiple deceased human beings from a burial ground, and conspiracy to dismember multiple human bodies.

In some instances, the gravediggers allegedly crushed the vaults and caskets in the graves and dumped the human remains in another area of the cemetery, which was generally used for dumping garbage and dirt.

In other instances, they allegedly "double stacked" graves by removing a previously buried vault, digging the grave deeper, replacing the previously removed vault back in the hole, and covering it with dirt to prepare the space for a new burial on top.

The remaining defendants are scheduled to appear in court next week.

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