Chicago grave robbery scandal worries Memphis family

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Authorities are continuing the monumental task of trying to identify who is buried in about 100,000 graves at a troubled suburban Chicago cemetery.

Four people are accused of digging up bodies at Burr Oak Cemetery in an alleged moneymaking scheme.

Officials say records have been found disintegrating and rotting in a rusty file cabinet. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he's received about 65,000 requests from families seeking information about loved ones buried there.

One of the families lives here in the Mid-South.  The recent accidental shooting death of her son Dalton, isn't the only tragedy Rochelle Payne has to deal with. News of the grave robbery scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago also has her worried.

"It's disgusting, and to think that somebody could do that," Payne said Tuesday.

The cemetery is where Payne's father, grandmother, six aunts, and two uncles were buried in the mid 1960's.  Payne said what's been most difficult is not knowing if her relatives graves have been tampered with.

"I just have this feeling the graves have been disturbed," she said. "With it being there so long, I really don't believe we'll ever find it again."

Payne's son is buried at another cemetery located just down the street from Burr Oak.

"If somebody did that to my son's grave, I think it would kill me," she said. "I couldn't accept it."

While authorities have charged several people with digging up several hundred bodies and reselling the plots, Payne says she won't have any peace until her loved ones are located.

"If it wasn't for my faith and trust in God, I couldn't do it," she said.

Payne has also been in close contact with her family in Chicago.  She says if necessary, she will take a trip there soon.

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