A mass grave of unidentified migrants was uncovered in Brooks County, Texas. Anthropologists working at the site found many instances of multiple bodies in trash bags, bones in shopping bags or simply buried in the dirt.
The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported on the mass graves, which were excavated by anthropologists Lori Baker of Baylor University and Krista Latham of the University of Indianapolis.
The anthropologists were working at Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias, Texas, as part of the Reuniting Families project, which seeks to identify migrants who have died crossing the border into Texas. It is believed the migrants died due to exposure as they tried to elude Border Patrol.
Excavation first began at the cemetery in 2013 and 152 bodies were recovered from the site. The anthropologists returned two weeks ago and discovered 52 more bodies. Since many were found together and the bags were not opened onsite, the final tally of bodies found may be much higher, reports the Caller Times. According to county officials, a local funeral home, Funeraria del Angel Howard-Williams, was paid $450 per body to handle the migrants found by local law-enforcement officials and the mass graves were identified by markers bearing the funeral home's name.
According to Texas law, detailed records of burials must be maintained, but it is unclear if that responsibility falls on the owner of the cemetery or on the funeral home, reports the Caller Times. Other Texas laws prohibit mass graves and requires specific burial depths and containers.
Following the discovery of the mass grave, Democratic State Senator Juan Hinojosa called on 79th Judicial District Attorney Carlos Omar Garcia to investigate the burial site. Speaking to the Caller Times, Hinojosa said, "I’m appalled at the number of bodies just left in body bags and, in many instances, more than one body in one bag. That’s not right. We need to get to the bottom of the situation."