Volunteers Resume Exhumations of Unidentified Bodies

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FALFURRIAS - A group of volunteer researchers are back in in South Texas to dig up graves of unidentified bodies.

Student volunteers from Texas State University came back to Brooks County to help give some families closure. Texas State Anthropology professor Kate Spradley says Baylor University Dr. Lori Baker lead the first two exhumations in the Falfurrias cemetery in 2013 and 2014. The University of Indianapolis was also involved in those digs.

“The team that was here that year says they may not have gone deep enough,” she said. “So we’re going to go a little bit deeper in the first area where at least 40 individuals were exhumed to make sure that nobody was left behind.”

Volunteers exhumed about 120 bodies the first two trips. All the corpses had been buried without a name before DNA samples were ever taken.

“They were buried without a chance for identification which is why we’re conducting these exhumations in the first place. So, we can try and get a DNA sample,” Texas State University student Tim Gocha said.

Some of the remains offer a few more details about the person inside. One body bag contained the bones of a female found on Mariposa Ranch in the summer of 2012.

However, the process of identifying the female inside could take years.

“The exhumations take a much shorter amount of time that the subsequent forensic and scientific tests that need to occur in order to identify these individuals to repatriate them home,” one volunteer said.

21 of the 120 bodies dug up since 2013 have been identified. They said efforts have helped them give families the closure they need. 


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