HAMMOND | North Township maintenance crews found three more bones Wednesday in a dirt berm near an area where five human bones were found Sunday at embattled Oak Hill Cemetery.
A bone longer than 12 inches, an apparently shorter and thinner bone about 12 inches long and a smaller rounded bone were among those excavated from the dirt and sand pile. The berm is made up of soil displaced when graves have been dug over the years at the 21-acre cemetery.
A discarded granite headstone from a 1910 burial also was found in the pile.
A forensic pathologist will analyze the newly found bones Friday to determine if they are from human remains, Lake County coroner's spokesman PJ Adams said.
The bones from Wednesday were found along a 40-yard stretch on the cemetery's southeast side where a human skull cap, jaw bone, femur, pelvic bone and hip bone were found scattered Sunday, North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan said.
A forensic anthropologist already has verified the bones discovered Sunday were human.
Mrvan confirmed Wednesday that authorities believe the bones came from a disturbed grave or graves at the cemetery and may be yet another sign of carelessness by the former cemetery management.
"I think it may point to carelessness," said Mrvan, who joined crews from his office in sifting through the Oak Hill dirt pile with shovels and a backhoe. "What we are finding here today (Wednesday) may lend further credence to a township takeover here."
Mrvan's office is in the midst of trying to take over ownership of Oak Hill and already has assumed maintenance responsibilities. State law permits township trustees to take over abandoned cemeteries.
The push for a government takeover follows a Times investigation published in the fall that revealed several headstones discarded in a debris pile, unmarked graves and shoddy maintenance of the Hohman Avenue cemetery that contains the remains of some of Hammond's founding families.
Mrvan's office since then has overseen a restoration and cleanup at the cemetery.
But a discovery of human bones along the dirt pile Sunday prompted the trustee to excavate the berm down to ground level. A separate, older dirt pile along the southern fence line also is being excavated but had not been sifted completely Wednesday.
And another dirt mound inside a fenced-in area where about a dozen discarded headstones were found in the fall also likely will be searched, trustee's workers said.