Remains stored in cemetery removed after theft and vandalism - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Remains stored in cemetery removed after theft and vandalism

A warehouse at the University of Louisville is the temporary resting place for the cremated remains of hundreds of people.

The remains were removed from Louisville's Eastern Cemetery after vandalism threatened the safety and sanctity of those remains.  The ashes of hundreds of men, women and children were in blue plastic boxes and a dozen or so cardboard boxes.

"They were the ones that family members would have cremated and they never wanted to see them again.  So, as a result, the cemetery should have disposed of them," said Phil DiBlasi, a U of L Archaeology professor.

The remains sat in a small building for years until vandals broke in and disturbed them.  Then, someone found one of the boxes in a dry creekbed in Jeffersontown on Wednesday.  Police there have made no arrests.

"What the thief or thieves involved in the J-town incident would have found inside the blue plastic box was the remains of five people.  All those remains were sealed in plastic, and all those plastic bags, were sealed inside a metal cask," said DiBlasi.

DiBlasi and U of L students removed the boxes Friday.  DiBlasi says he should have removed them last fall under a court order.

"I can't imagine somebody climbing in there, climbing and hauling stuff out without passing it to somebody else.  These things aren't terribly light." said DiBlasi.

DiBlasi says the remains could be buried in two or three years, once they are cataloged and any legal questions or claims are answered.

"I should have been more on the ball, and I should have gotten them out several months ago," said DiBlasi.

It's not clear who is legally responsible for Eastern Cemetery.  An "ad hoc" group of the state attorney general's office, U of L and Dismas Charities looks after it, after messy court fights in the mid 1990s.

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