The Crusader Newspaper Group

215 bodies found buried behind Jackson, Mississippi jail

Left to right: Rev. Hosea Hines and Attorney Ben Crump

Alarmed over the discovery of 215 multiracial bodies found buried in a pauper’s cemetery behind the Hinds County, Mississippi jail, Reverend Hosea Hines, senior Pastor of the Christ Tabernacle Church and the national leader of A New Day Coalition for Equity and Black America (ANCEBA), joined Attorney Ben Crump in calling for an investigation.

Some relatives of those found buried behind the jail simply thought they were missing. They object to having to pay a fee for the removal of their loved one’s remains that are needed for a proper burial.

At a press conference held on December 20 at the Stronger Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, Crump was joined by relatives of three of the deceased men. Each of the women held pictures of their loved ones.

Gretchen Hankins, who is white, held a picture of her son, Jonathan Hankins, 39. Mary Moore Glenn, a Black woman, held a picture of her son, Marrio Moore, 40, and Betterstem Wade held a photo of her son, Dexter Wade, 37. They were shocked to learn their relatives had been buried behind the jail.

Crump and his co-counsel, Dennis Sweet, are demanding to know why officials failed to investigate their deaths and did not try to find the next of kin, as opposed to burying them in a pauper’s grave near a dirt road by the jail work farm. Their gravesites were reportedly marked with a metal rod and a number.

“People all across America are scratching their heads in disbelief about what’s happening in Jackson, Mississippi, with this pauper’s graveyard,” said Crump.

“It went from talking about the water” that was non-existent or contaminated, “to now we’re talking about the graveyard. What is going on in Jackson, Mississippi?”

That is what Reverend Hines wants to know, as well.

In an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Hines said, “It’s unfortunate that we are living in a world that is college educated and super sophisticated as it relates to telecommunications and IT. The amount of mistakes that were made, as to individual families not being notified about the deaths, is really unbelievable.

“It really saddens my heart to know that their relatives went that long, some over a year, not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive and then coming to the realization that they had been buried in a pauper’s grave behind a jailhouse,” Hines said. “If they had been properly notified, they would have been able to pay their proper respects.

“A lot of these things that have happened were not under the watch of Joseph Wade, the chief of the Jackson Police Department,” Hines stated. “He has instituted a new death notification policy that would give relatives information about their deaths and the cause.

“I have spoken with the chief, and he has told me he will implement policies and procedures to ensure this won’t happen again and to hold those individuals responsible for what has occurred.”

Agreeing with Attorney Crump, Hines said, “There needs to be a real call for justice” on behalf of the 215 Black, white, Hispanic and Native Americans who were buried behind the jailhouse.

Asked if he was surprised this was happening in Jackson, Mississippi, Hines said, “I am surprised that it’s happening anywhere in the U.S. We should be better than this.”

He said he does not know if the deaths of the 215 people were acts of “racism, prejudice, or bigotry.” He is also investigating the causes of their deaths.

“I give my condolences to all of the families that have been affected by this tragedy. My prayers go out and up to them, and I pray that you find the whole truth and nothing but the truth about their deaths.” Hines said he will be working to find out the truth and to give care to the grieving families.

Efforts to reach Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart to determine the cause of the deaths failed. She did not respond to phone calls or emails.

+ posts

Recent News

Scroll to Top