Researchers get the green light to look for Herrin Massacre victims in a local cemetery


Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Mike Spissinger

HERRIN, Ill. - Monday, a judge in Williamson County, Illinois ruled the court can't stop a team of researchers from finding out if there are people buried on top of each other at The Herrin City Cemetery.

The decision comes after a local historian discovered what he thinks is the burial site for the victims of the Herrin massacre. Three of them were war veterans. The research team thinks those victims, and possibly more than a hundred other people, are buried beneath newer graves.

About a month ago, a young man died and was going to be buried in block 15 of the cemetery. As grave diggers began preparing grave, they ran into the remains of a woman from the 1930s. The researchers said as they do more digging, the problem is only going to get worse.

"I don't know how bad it's going to get," said historian and Herrin Massacre author Scott Doody. The only way to find out is to dig, and that is what his team got permission to do in a Williamson County Court hearing Monday. "The winners today are the decorated combat vets laying in sold graves and the citizens of Herrin," Doody said.

Citizens like Nancy Stone whose husband and son could be buried on top of people. She said, "It made me sick to my stomach. It was unbelievable." Geologist Steven Di Naso said people like Stone are asking him to dig up the truth. "We don't know until we can do the research and that's what we were given approval for today," he said.

Now that they've got the green light, researchers will start digging on Friday. No current burial sites will be disturbed.