Detroit Police, FBI wrap up exhumations at Gethsemane Cemetery

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News
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Detroit Police and FBI investigators have wrapped up three days of digging up gravesites at the troubled Gethsemane Cemetery on Detroit's eastside, police said Thursday.

Exhumations of remains from 20 burial plots got underway Monday and ended Wednesday with the discovery of bodies that were originally believed to be missing, said Cpl. Dan Donakowski, a police spokesman.

Persons wearing shirts that say 'FBI Evidenct Response Team', and others digging at Gethsemane Cemetery, Mausoleum and Crematory in Detroit, Michigan on June 7, 2021.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from a Detroit woman who reported her relative's remains were missing from their original burial site and that four other bodies were in the plot, said Donakowski. The woman has located her family member's remains and has moved them to another cemetery, he said.

The City of Detroit set up a hotline and took calls from people concerned about the burial of their loved ones' remains from April 29-May 17. The hotline received 52 credible complaints, Donakowski said Monday. Of those, 20 were valid enough to be further investigated.

Nineteen plots were dug up. Fourteen graves were found to be in properly-located plots. Four others were found to be within six feet of where the family was originally told the graves were located, he said.

Another person whose complaint was among the 20 cases to be investigated did not return notifications for follow up on their call to the hotline.

On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania law firm with the assistance of Troy-based attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court against Detroit, a city church and two cemetery management companies.

The 18-page lawsuit accuses the city, New Calvary Baptist Church, Necaba Management Group Inc. of Southfield and the Enduring Memories Cemetery Management Company in Detroit of gross misconduct and business practices and failing to provide adequate burial services and maintenance of plots at Gethsemane.

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