Image: Deteriorated cemetery files
M. Spencer Green  /  AP
A file cabinet filled with disintegrating burial records from the Burr Oak Cemetery is shown at a news conference Tuesday in Bridgeview, Ill. The cemetery's records are in such bad shape officials fear they will never be able to bring complete closure to the hundreds of family members.
updated 7/15/2009 4:44:06 PM ET 2009-07-15T20:44:06

The owner of a suburban Chicago cemetery that's been closed by authorities amid allegations that workers dug up bodies and resold plots says he had nothing to do with the alleged wrongdoing.

Melvin Bryant, president of Arizona-based Perpetua Inc., says he finds the conduct "despicable and deplorable." Bryant says neither he nor Perpetua profited from the alleged scheme.

He says he feels sorry for the families who are left wondering what's happened to their loved ones' remains. He says he also has relatives buried at Burr Oak Cemetery in south suburban Alsip.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart had noted Tuesday that Bryant hasn't been to Burr Oak since the investigation began and asked a court to appoint someone to run the cemetery.

Authorities have the monumental task of trying to identify who is buried in about 100,000 graves.

Officials say records have been found disintegrating and rotting in a rusty file cabinet.

Dart said he's received about 65,000 requests from families seeking information about loved ones buried there.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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