Report: 81 known stacked bodies in cemetery recently taken over by state
(WMC-TV) - An investigator reports that Galilee Cemetery in Bartlett stacked bodies on top of each other and created possible mass graves.
The investigator was hired as a consultant by the Lambert family to help find two missing bodies at Galilee; they were never found, but he outlined the mess he did uncover in a 37-page document.
Derrick Gunn, owner of Gunn Funeral Home in Little Rock, Ark., then filed a five-phase Galilee Memorial Gardens cemetery restoration report that he later faxed to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
It concludes that cemetery management was "very methodical" in its attempt to make the cemetery grounds appear viable by "recycling" old graves and using those thought to be of "adequate depth."
Gunn called it a "desperate attempt to buy time" that caused the situation "to spiral out of control and result in lost interred remains."
His report claims there are 81 known stacked bodies. The caskets: crushed, torn, and ripped.
William Davis, Gladys Finley, and Kathleen Cross were all buried in the same grave in a four-day span in March 2013.
Gunn says extracting and restoring those 81 known cases would cost $60,885, but multiple class-action lawsuits claim the lost and stacked loved ones number hundreds more.
Founded in 1960, Galilee has only enough space for 16,425 graves. By 2010, 16,700 had been developed.
Gunn suggested creating an additional 8,800 graves on adjoining land, making a new cemetery by getting new management, and extracting all bodies in all "Gardens" sections of Galilee.
Action News 5 obtained an email Galilee owner Jemar Lambert sent to the state regarding Gunn's report.
He wrote, "We are ready to move forward with putting any issues behind us. For the community and our sake. We have complied to the best of our knowledge and working diligently to spell any more issues."
Lambert then asked, "What is the possible time frame for license reinstatement?"
The state has control of the cemetery now, and Lambert remains locked up at 201 Poplar without bond. To read the complete report, click here.
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