A judge has given the OK for a Texas district to exhume human remains found earlier this year at a school district construction site.
KTRK-TV reports that Judge John Hawkins has granted the Fort Bend district permission to exhume 94 graves at the site in Sugar Land. The district plans to build the James Reese Career and Technical Center on the site.
Fort Bend says a lab will be set up on site to study the remains.
The district says in a news release that since announcing discovery of the gravesite In April, it has worked with the Texas Historical Commission to conduct further exploratory work and establish the cemetery’s perimeter. Archaeologists have identified 94 graves.
The judge's ruling clears the way for exhuming the graves so that forensic anthropologists and archaeologists can gather additional data regarding the cemetery, including the sex, age, race, medical condition, and possible causes of death of the individuals who are buried at the site.
“We are appreciative of the Texas Historical Commission’s guidance during this process, and we hope to begin further analysis soon to ensure that we are properly honoring the deceased and identifying an appropriate location for reinterment,” says Fort Bend Superintendent Charles Dupre. “As the process to learn more about this site continues, we remain committed to honoring the history of those buried at the site.”
The exhumation is anticipated to take up to three months. Construction work continues on the James Reese Career and Technical Center in the areas not impacted by the archaeological work.
Researchers have said that the bodies buried at the site could be African-American prisoners who were contracted out for labor.