Scientists discover the remains of several infants buried in a common grave at Oaklawn Cemetery.
In the search for Tulsa Race Massacre victims, teams have found 28 burials in a plot of unmarked graves. A team searching for race massacre victims exhumed the eighth set of remains from a common grave at Oaklawn Cemetery late Monday and transferred the remains to a lab for further study.
Forensic work on the first seven sets of remains determined two were adult men, two were adult women and three of the burials were infants. Only one complete set of infant remains was recovered for study.
Another burial site was excavated, with no remains found, according to Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield, the lead Forensic Anthropologist on the project.
The familial relationship between the burials is unknown, but none have shown obvious signs of trauma, as would be expected with victims of the massacre, according to Stubblefield. Records indicate 18 burials from the massacre in an unmarked grave at Oaklawn, and two nearby headstones are dated from June 1, 1921.
28 burial sites have been identified in a common grave in a corner of the cemetery near 11th Street. Two individual grave shafts were identified by the headstones.
“So far, we’re not seeing evidence of the kind of trauma documented for the first 18 people, or known to have occurred during the race massacre,” said Stubblefield.
The skeletal remains are being placed in boxes and carried across the cemetery to the lab for examination. X-rays have revealed some of the adults have signs of arthritis, and teeth with signs of prolonged high fever, likely from measles, while none have shown indications of bone fractures and no bullets have been recovered.
“We’re looking for a collection of males, multiple males, with evidence of gunshot wounds,” said Dr. Stubblefield, who added that reliable indicators of trauma would be shattered bones or bullets within the remains.
Stubblefield said some of the remains are well preserved, possibly having been embalmed before burial, while others are in poor condition.
“We’re seeing a pattern of when we excavate we can see there’s a complete skeleton, but by the time we finish the excavation some parts will have dried out and crumbled," Stubblefield said.
She said they’re working on preserving bones that show indicators of age.
Monday, a team started work at Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, a private cemetery near 91st and Yale that was identified as another possible mass grave site. OU Researchers using ground penetrating radar expect to take several days to examine an area on the east side of the property. The site is closed to the public during the work.