Third Man In Mississippi Buried In Pauper's Grave Without Family Knowledge

Jonathan David Hankins died in May but his family didn’t find out he was buried in December.

A third man has been discovered buried in the state of Mississippi in a pauper’s cemetery without his family’s knowledge although officials were aware of the deceased’s identity, the Associated Press reports.

The family of Jonathan David Hankins, 39, learned of his death from news outlets on Dec. 4, instead of through local authorities. Hawkins was buried in Jackson near the Hinds County Penal Farm.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who’s representing the family, said the family is demanding answers about why Hankins was disregarded in such an inhumane way.

“Jonathan David Hankins’ family has been desperately seeking answers about their loved one’s disappearance for more than a year,” Crump said in a news release. “Now, to find out from news reports that his body was found in the same county where Dexter Wade’s body was buried after being struck by a police cruiser raises disturbing questions.”

In June 2022, Hankins was first reported missing in June 2022 and was found dead in a Jackson hotel room in May 2022. The law officials knew of his identity but the Jackson Police Department and Hinds County Coroner’s Office never notified the family, according to Crump.

How A Jackson, Miss., Mother Learned Her Missing Son Was Buried In An Unmarked Grave After A Police Blunder

Speaking with NBC News, Gretchen Hankins, Jonathan’s mother expressed the emotional turmoil that she has suffered from  

“I want people to know that somebody is not doing their job and making folks go through what I’ve been through,” said Gretchen Hankins, who believed her son died of a drug overdose. “They can’t even do the job of notifying a dead person’s next of kin,” she said in the report. “They probably just thought, ‘Another drug addict, gone.’”

Authorities have come under fire after Hankins was buried without his family's knowledge continuing a disturbing trend in the state. In March, Dexter Wade died in March after being struck by the SUV of an off-duty Jackson Police Department officer but his mother wasn’t notified that he was buried until August. 

When Wade’s body was exhumed in November, in his wallet were his state-issued I.D. card with his home address, health insurance card, and a credit card.

Similarly, Marrio Moore was buried in the same field on Dec. 1 without his family being notified after being “beaten to death and found wrapped in a tarp” in February. Until Moore’s body was buried in a pauper’s grave on July 14, it was held in the Hinds County morgue. Moore’s family was made aware of his burial eight months after he was killed.

Crump has called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the string of burials.

“Families that report a loved one missing deserve immediate and accurate answers,” Crump said.

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