The looting of graves to make room for more bodies and bigger profits at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, IL. necessarily leads to the simple proposition -" God ain't making any more land."
Four cemetery employees are charged with dismembering human bodies so plots could be resold, or pounding down original graves to create more room, affecting nearly 300 deceased. ( click my post title for more) For openers.
The path from Burr Oak Cemetery goes well beyond the greedy designs of four hapless mopes - three gravediggers/graverobbers and the Lady in the Office - to Tucson, Arizona where the former corporate heads of Perpetua laid their weary bodies down in retirement.
Slivy Edmonds Cotton, the former president and CEO of Perpetua, Inc, lives in Tucson, AZ. She says she stepped down in 2002.
During her time with the company, she managed Burr Oak Cemetery.
Cotton says, "I have to tell you I was totally shocked and appalled at such a horrendous story, we really spent a lot of time trying to create the type of company in the funeral industry that was all about serving families and people."
We asked cotton if she investigated any similar cases of cemetery desecration at the time she was managing Burr Oak.
Cotton says, "I don't think that there's ever been anything to this magnitude. There are always rumors about things may have happened years ago, and there were rumors about things that might have happened years ago. We did do some investigation and were not able to identify anything that had actually happened."
Cotton says she did hire Carolyn Towns. Towns was one of the employees arrested in the case.
Cotton adds, "Carolyn having been on the management team, she was certainly aware at that time that these types of things were not tolerated."
Cotton goes on to say that she hasn't had contact with Towns in years, nor the company.
"I was there very often and we had two or three other managers who traveled to the various properties to make sure there was enough presence of management. This is not the way most cemeteries operate, and it's certainly was not the way Burr Oak operated at the time I was involved."
The current president of Perpetua in Richardson, Texas, Melvin Bryant didn't return our calls.
Ah, the Presence of Management! Is that something akin to The Ghost of Management, or the Chimera of Management? The Veneer of Management? How about the Panavision of Profit? The Galaxy of Greed?
I live near Burr Oak. In fact, I live near most cemeteries it seems. My wife and most of my family are interred with the Catholic Cemeteries at Holy Sepulchre and Mount Olivet. The Catholic Cemeteries purchased vast tracks of land way back in the 19th Century. Remarkably, despite more than a century of Christian burials in those vast tracks of land there remains many more great tracks of land, yet unused, or plotted.
Where the land is tight for burial, some real hideous shenanigans can dance afoot. Cui Bono? Those who might profit. Grave diggers, Management Presence Officers, and there just might be long procession of others who profit in Loss.
It seems that 111th Street, 115th Street and 127th Street and the adjunct north and south routes to the various Gates to Eternity in the southwest Chicago Mortuary Community are rarely if ever free of anacondas of cars trailing a hearse.
Land is tight and the mortal certainty of death must have made an impact upon a few people beyond the four mopes now in custody.
Sheriff Tom Dart, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other members of Law Enforcement should be digging into the financial records and acquisitions of the Perpetua Corporate Officers past and present and perhaps other industries in the Death Market who passed through the Gates at Burr Oak.
This is only getting warmed up, Folks!