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Mass graves oversight committee members asking for expanded search

Posted at 5:25 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 20:17:08-04

TULSA — As the search for mass graves continues at Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa Mass Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee members are already asking about areas that might be skipped.

The search at the cemetery will wrap up Thursday, after researchers picked specific areas to comb during the four-day process. The team will then move on to Newblock Park.

However, before it does, some members want the researchers to look under the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL), and at more spots inside Oaklawn.

"If it were your mom, or your dad, and you had credible evidence they were dumped and buried in unmarked graves underneath the interstate, would you not want somebody to go and find them?" asked Dr. Robert Turner, who is the pastor at Vernon AME Church.

Experts say searching under the IDL wouldn't necessarily mean it would have to be torn up, but the metal and concrete could prevent researchers from collecting sufficient data.

Researchers are set to speak more about the feasibility of searching under the IDL Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Regina Goodwin tells 2 Works for You she would like to see a more thorough look taken at a specific spot in the south part of Oaklawn Cemetery. She says in the early 2000s it was scanned, and determined to be an anomaly, but nothing came of it.

Mayor Bynum's office tells 2 Works for You the first round of scanning identifies areas of interest like the one Rep. Goodwin referenced. Researchers will focus on them, using much more advanced technology than what was available nearly two decades ago. Those researchers also say while there are several potential areas to search, the ones selected for the first round are promising, and can be covered in a short amount of time.

Because cell phone signals interfered with the radar equipment Monday, people in the area are asked to turn off their phones, or switch them to airplane mode.

Following initial work today, experts are asking bystanders to be at least 300 feet away from the site area as the majority of the results today were inconclusive due to interference from cameras and phones. The work completed today will be redone this week. The site area at Oaklawn Cemetery will be zoned off to create a larger perimeter to prevent further interference with the ground penetration radar and scanning equipment.

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