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Connecticut cemetery accused of moving, stacking remains to put newly interred in old plots

Connecticut cemetery accused of moving, stacking remains to put newly interred in old plots

Postby smix » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:08 pm

Connecticut cemetery accused of moving, stacking remains to put newly interred in old plots
Fox News

URL; https://www.foxnews.com/us/connecticut- ... -old-plots
Category: Business
Published: October 4, 2018

Description: A Connecticut cemetery that is the final resting place for Civil and Spanish-American war veterans is now the site of an alleged macabre money-making scheme by the current manager, who wanted to discard old bodies in order to make room for the newly dead. Bridgeport police said detectives walking through Park Cemetery recently found human bone fragments and pieces of caskets littered all over the hallowed grounds. They discovered that manager Dale LaPrade had dozens of headstones – some dating back to the 1800s – moved so newer arrivals could be buried in plots stacked on old graves, the Connecticut Post reported. “New dirt was put over older graves and new graves were put there,” Detective Kimberly Biehn told Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Stewart during a court hearing Tuesday. Detective Jorge Cintron said a gravedigger told him he had been ordered by LaPrade to throw old bones and caskets away to make room for new graves. In the cemetery’s office, officials allegedly found records scattered all over the floor. “There was fresh soil over old headstones and they were in the process of building an access road through the stones,” Cintron testified. “In the woods, we found old headstones and human bones that had just been thrown around.” The newspaper reported LaPrade, who took over managing the cemetery more than 10 years ago, did not respond to a subpoena to show up at the hearing and did not return calls. It’s unclear if LaPrade profited monetarily from the alleged scheme. Park Cemetery is owned by an association made up of families of the deceased buried there. Cheryl Jensen, a retired lawyer who has four generations of family interred at the cemetery, told Stewart she was fed up with the deteriorating conditions at the cemetery and went last month to Probate Court, where a judge contacted Bridgeport police and asked them to investigate. LaPrade is facing a police investigation for the conditions at the cemetery, the newspaper reported. It’s unclear if charges will be filed.
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Human bones, casket pieces found scattered in cemetery

Postby smix » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:19 pm

Human bones, casket pieces found scattered in cemetery
Connecticut Post

URL: https://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Hu ... o-16266861
Category: Business
Published: October 3, 2018

Description: BRIDGEPORT - For 140 years, Park Cemetery has been the final resting place for Civil and Spanish-American war veterans, former Bridgeport Mayor Jasper McLevy and the city’s first Jewish population. But recently, police detectives walking through the Lindley Street cemetery made a macabre discovery. The hallowed grounds were littered with human bone fragments and pieces of casket, police said, as part of an alleged scheme by the current cemetery manager to profit from the new over the old. The cemetery is owned by an association made up of families of the deceased buried there. During a court hearing on Tuesday, detectives Jorge Cintron and Kimberly Biehn told Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Stewart that dozens of headstones, some dating back to the 1800s, had been moved so that the newly dead could be buried in plots stacked on old graves. “New dirt was put over older graves and new graves were put there,” Biehn testified. Cheryl Jensen, a retired lawyer from Shelton who has four generations of family interred at Park Cemetery, urged the judge to remove the manager, Dale LaPrade. “The cemetery needs to be made right for everyone who has family there,” Jensen said, wiping tears from her eyes. Stewart reserved decision on Jensen’s request for a temporary injunction booting LaPrade, who is currently facing a police investigation for the conditions at the cemetery. Jensen said she is seeking to have the judge turn over management of the cemetery to Martin Green, who currently manages the small Jewish section of the cemetery. LaPrade, who took over managing the cemetery more than 10 years ago, did not respond to a subpoena to show up for the hearing and didn’t return calls left on the cemetery’s answering machine by Hearst Connecticut Media. Fed up with deteriorating conditions at the cemetery, Jensen told the judge, she went to Probate Court ... when .... in an effort to get some action against LaPrade. Probate Judge Paul Ganim then contacted Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez who assigned Cintron and Biehn to investigate. On Sept. 14, the detectives, armed with a search warrant, went to the cemetery.

toppled-headstones.jpg

“There was fresh soil over old headstones and they were in the process of building an access road through the stones,” Cintron testified. “In the woods we found old headstones and human bones that had just been thrown around.” Cintron said a grave digger told him that he had been ordered by LaPrade to throw old bones and caskets away to make room for new graves. He said when he went into the cemetery office he found records scattered all over the floor. Biehn said when she studied the records against the actual layout of the cemetery, she discovered that dozens of headstones were not with their associated graves. Lisa Burghardt, who worked with a local monument company, told the judge that there have been many occasions in the past five years when the business would install monuments on grave sites assigned by LaPrade only to have family members of the deceased complain later that the monument was on the wrong grave. “It was like a game of musical chairs, we never knew where the graves were, she (LaPrade) would just say, ‘Put it over here, it looks like a good spot,’ but she wouldn’t even know if that was the right grave site,” Burghardt said. “We wanted to complain to someone but there was no one to complain to.” Jensen said she tried contacting Mayor Joseph Ganim and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., but got no response. “There was no interest, even though there are a lot of veterans buried there,” she said. Cemetery upkeep complaints are not unknown in the area. When he was the state’s attorney general in the early 1990s, Blumenthal helped orchestrate the removal of the management of the Fairfield Memorial Park cemetery in his hometown of Stamford. At the time, families charged that bodies were buried in the wrong graves; graves were sold more than once; remains were disturbed when new graves were dug; owners were charged for services not provided; and other problems. After Blumenthal removed the owner, he appointed a monitor to straighten out the problems. A board was established to create bylaws, a code of ethics, a conflict-of-interest policy, and better methods for issuing deeds and keeping records. But families of loved ones interned there are now seeking a court order to get rid of the volunteer board that took over Fairfield Memorial. The board is impossible to get hold of and won’t answer calls or emails. It doesn’t hold public meetings, if it holds meetings at all, critics said. They charge that current conditions are untenable: improperly covered graves; crooked, sunken markers; a road riddled with potholes; a fallen fence that fails to hide piles of dirt and rocks, a full dumpster, and some large construction trucks and trailers are routinely parked on the grounds.
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