Cemetery manager arrested
BRIDGEPORT - The manager of the Park Cemetery, accused of digging up old graves to reuse them for new burials, has been arrested.
Dale LaPrade, was arrested on a warrant charging her with interference with a cemetery. She was released on a written promise to appear in court for Dec. 18.
LaPrade, manager of the 140-year-oldf Lindley Street cemetery for the past 12 years, was arrested following an intensive investigation by police detectives Kimberly Biehn and Jorge Cintron.
Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald said the detectives served two search warrants on the premises and seized financial documents and grave site maps. Detectives worked with a state anthropologist and utilized ground penetrating radar to confirm that grave sites had been disturbed, he said.
“Detectives Biehn and Cintron were the lead investigators in this case and did a thorough and outstanding job combing through evidence, and preparing a case to ensure that Mrs. LaPrade is no longer involved in daily operations at the cemetery and that the public can be rest assured, that those interred there are treated with dignity and respect,” Fitzgerald said.
The arrest comes less than a week after Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ordered LaPrade removed as manager of the cemetery.
During a civil court trial, Cintron and Biehn testified that dozens of headstones, some dating to the 1800s, had been moved at Park Cemetery so the newly dead could be buried in plots stacked on old graves.
“New dirt was put over older graves and new graves were put there,” Biehn testified.
“There was fresh soil over old head stones and they were in the process of building an access road through the stones,” Cintron testified. “In the woods we found old headstones and human bones that had just been thrown around.”
Cintron said a grave digger told him he had been ordered by LaPrade to throw old bones and caskets away to make room for new graves.