Central State human remains ‘mangled’ by police construction

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis police knowingly disrupted human remains in a historic cemetery during construction of a new K-9 training facility on the west side of the city, the Indiana Medical History Museum said.

While crews were digging a trench to connect water lines to the new building, the remains of three people buried in the Central State Hospital Cemetery were “crushed and mangled,” the museum said in a statement Tuesday. An additional 10 individuals — whose burials were in the path of the water line — also had to be exhumed for future reinternment by archaeologists.

The grounds of Central State Hospital, a psychiatric treatment facility that operated from 1848 until its closure in 1992, is now home to the Indiana Medical History Museum. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s mounted horse patrol and its new K-9 facility are located next door.

Working alongside archaeologists at Ball State University, the museum has been working to identify patients and mark burials in the oldest of the hospital’s four cemeteries for nearly two years. Museum officials said IMPD moved forward with construction through the cemetery before archaeologists were able to determine the exact locations of all the patient burial sites in the area.

“They did this knowing that the cemetery was there and without an archaeologist onsite to monitor the dig for any signs of burials and to stop the work if any were discovered,” the museum said.

The museum said further damage was done even after the remains were exhumed by archaeologists. Contractors did drilling “at two additional points” and at depths “consistent with the varying depths of the graves exhumed by the archaeologists.” The work “very likely” disturbed or destroyed additional burials, museum officials said, though the extent of this potential damage may never be known.

“This is simply not OK,” the museum said. “The necessity of it is debatable, and it wasn’t done transparently.”

Indianapolis police said in a statement that contractors “immediately” notified officials and halted construction once human remains were discovered. They said they will continue working with contractors, archeologists and other state officials “to ensure these individuals receive the appropriate and respectful resting place they deserve.”