SHERIFF ESTABLISHES SITE FOR
Thursday, Febuary 18, 2010 — In the wake of last year’s scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office has established a new online link providing an immediate resource for those who have concerns about cemeteries in unincorporated parts of the county, Sheriff Tom Dart announced Thursday.
A link at www.cookcountysheriff.com allows visitors to fill out an online form expressing concerns or reporting suspected criminal activity at 26 cemeteries. It also provides contact information for each of those cemeteries, as well as for investigators who can hear complaints at (708) 865-4700.
The link, “Cemeteries in Unincorporated Cook County” is located on the left rail of the sheriff’s main web page.
“The tragedies we saw at Burr Oak Cemetery should never be allowed to happen again,” Dart said. “Since last summer, we have all heard from people who said they had concerns about what they had seen at Burr Oak or other cemeteries, but weren’t sure where to turn. This resource will take the guess work away for many and help add another layer to protecting those concerned about their loved ones’ final resting place.”
The Cook County Sheriff's Office has responsibility for unincorporated parts of the county, which is why the sheriff is focusing on those 26 specific cemeteries. Anyone with questions or concerns about cemeteries located in municipalities should contact authorities in that jurisdiction, but are always welcome to also use this site by clicking "other cemetery."
Cemeteries covered under this outreach initiative are Mt. Hope, St. Nicholas and Mt. Greenwood in Chicago, First Lutheran in Alsip, Holy Sepulchre and Lincoln in Alsip, St. Mary Catholic in Evergreen Park, Homewood Memorial Gardens in Homewood, Assumption, Mt. Glenwood and Mt. Glenwood Memorial Gardens in Glenwood, Oak Hill and Beverly in Blue Island, Calvary Catholic in Steger, Cedar Park in Calumet Park, Fairmount Willow Hills in Willow Springs, Westlawn in Norridge, Oak Ridge/Glen Oak in Hillside, Mt. Vernon in Lemont, Lakewood Memorial Park in Elgin, Memory Gardens, All Saints and Ridgewood in Des Plaines, Shalom Memorial Park and Randhill Park in Arlington Heights, and St. John and St. Michael in Palatine.
The site allows users to click on one of those specific cemeteries to state a concern. All complaints must include contact information for a follow-up interview.
The site was not developed because of any tips, complaints or ongoing investigations. There are presently no active investigations by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office into any criminal activity at any cemetery.
The move follows an informational letter – also attached to this email - delivered in the wake of the Burr Oak scandal to the same cemetery owners, outlining our investigative procedures should we receive a complaint about a cemetery in unincorporated Cook County.
Last summer, the office’s financial crimes unit was asked to use its expertise to look into complaints about employee thefts at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip. Upon a visit, that investigation immediately turned into a deeper criminal investigation, resulting in criminal charges against four people – the cemetery’s manager and three of her employees. All are accused of taking part in a years-long scheme to unearth interred bodies, dump the remains and then bury someone new in that plot. Hundreds of bodies were discarded in that scheme. All defendants have posted bond and are awaiting trial.