10 bodies unearthed in airport excavation Only 2 found in potter's field have been identified

March 22, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

They are known only as Baby Lee and Mary E. Berger.

The two were among the remains of 10 people accidentally unearthed in a potter's field Jan. 30 by crews working at the edge of a cemetery near Baltimore-Washington International Airport's Runway 10-28.

Baby Lee was born Feb. 15, 1937, and died five days later. No one knows if Baby Lee was a girl or boy, or if "Lee" is the child's first or last name.

Mary E. Berger died June 20, 1934; when and where her life began remains a mystery.

The identities of the other eight people may never be known, airport officials said.

Airport officials have been running notices for two weeks in The Sun, the in search of relatives of the deceased.

So far, no one has responded to the notices, which will run at least another week, said Karen R. Black, a BWI spokeswoman.

At a meeting Wednesday of the BWI environmental committee, Michael C. West, associate administrator of planning and engineering for the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA), said will be difficult to find relatives of the deceased because the potter's field wasn't visited regularly.

Initially, airport officials thought they were dealing with the remains of up to five people. More remains were found later by authorities called to the scene.

"We're satisfied that everyone has been removed at this point," said Barbara Grey, an environmental manager with the MAA.

The remains of Mary E. Berger were identified by a silver nameplate on her casket, said Scott A. Ruddick, funeral director of Kirkley-Ruddick Funeral Home in Glen Burnie.

The remains of Baby Lee were identified by combing through old birth and death records at Friendship Cemetery, said Ms. Black.

The funeral home removed the last of the remains March 4.

Mr. Ruddick said the funeral home won't be able to identify the remains of the other people.

Nothing on their caskets hinted at their identities, and their bodies "were too far decomposed" to use other identification methods, said Mr. Ruddick.

The discovery of the remains took airport officials by surprise.

The airport's planning and engineering department had reviewed old church and county records and conducted a site check before excavation began for a $11 million fire rescue building. Crews had to work around the burial site until the remains were removed.

The shallow, unmarked paupers' graves are about 130 feet from a fence around Friendship Cemetery, where headstones carry the names of prominent North County families such as Shipley and Hawkins.

If no one comes forward to claim the remains, the MAA will pay to have them reinterred on plots it owns at Friendship Cemetery, Ms. Black said.

Friendship Cemetery, which has about 1,000 gravesites, was established in 1907.

It was affiliated with Friendship Methodist Church, which held its last service Easter Sunday 1948 and was razed to make room for what was then called Friendship Airport.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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