A grand jury has handed down a seven-count indictment against four former workers at a historic Black cemetery near Chicago that accuses them of theft and desecrating human remains.
Prosecutors in Cook County announced the indictment at a court appearance Thursday. The charges also include dismembering human remains, removal of a gravestone or marker, removal of multiple deceased human beings and conspiracy to dismember human bodies.
Prosecutors said at Thursday's hearing that more than 1,100 human bones have been found scattered about the historic Black cemetery where many prominent figures were buried, including blues singers Willie Dixon and Dinah Washington, boxing champion Ezzard Charles and Emmett Till, the Chicago teen whose lynching in 1955 was a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.
When word broke that graves had been dug up, thousands of people descended on the cemetery to see if their loved ones' remains had been disturbed. Authorities have said it doesn't appear the graves of the cemetery's famous inhabitants were disturbed.
One of those charged, Carolyn Towns, was accused of pocketing money collected for a Till memorial museum but she has not been charged in connection with that alleged scheme. Prosecutors said Thursday that none of the charges unveiled Thursday pertained to Till.
Towns, Keith Nicks and Terrence Nicks remain in custody and Maurice Dailey is out on bail. After the hearing, Dailey's attorney, Thomas Needham, portrayed Dailey as a low-level employee who only did as he was told by his superiors. He said Dailey did not take part in a scheme that authorities have said netted the participants about $300,000.
The three former gravediggers and a former administrator at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip were arrested last month. They're accused of digging up and dumping remains as well as stacking burial vaults on top of each other in order to resell plots.