Buried with a name
They say they're trained to do it, but are never really prepared for it.
A University of Indianapolis instructor took four students down to the Texas-Mexico border to help identify the hundreds of migrants buried there in a mass grave. The forensics lab at the U of I already handles cases from Indiana and Illinois. This small group of volunteers are taking on the much bigger job in Texas for one very simple reason: they believe everyone deserves to buried with a name.
"This is something we do every day, but down there it was different. It was emotional. We were interacting with the community. It made it all so real," Dr. Krista Latham observed in the University of Indianapolis lab where she works.
They spent seven days there and brought 13 skeletons back to Indiana with them. All of the workers were volunteers working on their own time.
"We know someone is waiting for them to come home," said U of I student Ryan Strand. "That is the first thing we work to keep in mind. There is a loved one out there who is looking for that person."
Erica Christensen added, "To make that final identification, give peace to that family would kind of make this whole project even more worthwhile than it already is."
The group is already preparing to go back this June, this time for two weeks.
"We go back because it is what we should be doing," Justin Maiers noted. He will be going back for a second time this summer.
"You see families, people waiting to recover people that they know are lost somewhere out there," Jessica Campbell remembered from last year's trip.
Now the group is working to raise money to finance the trip. The University of Indianapolis is donating the same amount of money as last year but the group is expanding and staying longer than last year.
"We believe all humans have basic rights. And right now, these people are being forgotten. They are being buried without a name and our goal is to make sure they get that name," Dr. Latham stated.
To raise money, they are selling wristbands and the University is accepting donations. They are also giving a lecture about their work April 2 on the University of Indianapolis campus.