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The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

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Buried Confessions in Jackson, Mississippi


Families of people who were buried in a pauper’s field next to the Hinds County Penal Farm near Jackson, Mississippi are calling for a federal investigation into the burials, which took place without families being notified. With their attorney now saying the field holds hundreds of more graves, the families want a full accounting of the bodies buried there.

The issue became national news in the fall of 2023, when several families said they had waited months to hear about a missing loved one — only to learn their relative had died months earlier and were buried in a grassy field, their graves marked only by a metal tag bearing a number. Their attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, says he believes many more people were buried under similar circumstances.

Many times in history, crimes have been buried and hidden from the public eye. This situation could be a prime example.

The unfortunate bodies were only “identifiable” by a metal rod and a number sticking out of the ground, with the families unaware that the victims were there.

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In March of 2023, Bettersten Wade filed a missing person report on her 37-year-old son, Dexter Wade. In August 2023, she learned that her son had been hit and killed by a police car and buried in that same cemetery, only marked by a rod and the number, 672. When Dexter’s body was found, there was an ID, home address and insurance card found in his front pocket.

Buried in the same cemetery were two victims who are the latest found, 40-year-old Marion Moore and 39-year-old Jonathan Hankins, with their families also not notified for months.

Families of the victims, those known and unknown, and concerned citizens are left wondering, “Why were their bodies buried behind the jail, and who are the victims?”

The coroner’s office policy, which is two pages long, outlines who in the family should be contacted by the next of kin. The document states that notifications, “should be given as soon as possible,” with the order being a spouse, adult children, parents and then adult siblings.

The Hinds County coroner’s office said the police in Jackson, where the men died, were responsible for the failed notifications. The police refuted this and said it was the coroner’s job.

If you made it this far, you may wonder, “Why is this story important?”

This story is important so families and the community can get the answer to, “Why people were buried there when there was an obvious policy to show how information should be told?”

Realistically everyone’s question may not be answered. To me, any answer whether good or bad, is better than none. This response can offer loved ones some type of closure and comfort, to know that even though they suffered, that does not mean anyone else should.

All the graves must be investigated to get any relevant information and ensure it is provided to the appropriate points of contact. The investigation should consist of identifying the victims, notifying their families and the deceased having a proper funeral and burial. Thorough investigations by law enforcement could also identify the individuals who committed these crimes against the victims, the criminal’s motives and ensure justice is fulfilled.

The U.S. Justice Department needs to ensure justice for these victims as it is their job. Too many times crimes have been committed, mostly against people of color, by police officers or those in higher power, being protected and no justice being served for the victims.

It should also be noted that there is some disconnect in the way the information should be communicated. Both the Hinds County coroner’s office and the police in Jackson need to sit down and fix the way they relay information to families, as the current process is not working.

Ultimately, justice and answers are needed in this affected community. There is no reason why the victim’s families are only finding out that their missing loved ones are dead after they have been buried in a grassy grave marked by a number. Nobody knows all the victims’ names who are left unidentified, who is to say it is not someone in your family?


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