Strong smell escapes graves at suspected illegal cemetery

Strong smell escapes graves at Prichard Cemetery where WPMI's reporting prompted a criminal investigation. (WPMI)

MOBILE, Ala (WPMI) — A haunting discovery in a Prichard cemetery, an strong odor seeping from the ground at Heritage Memorial Gardens.

The sheriff's office opened a criminal investigation after a series of WPMI news investigative reports about this alleged illegal cemetery.

Investigators say it's another shocking twist in this investigation.

"This whole situation is really just disgusting," said Captain Paul Burch.

Pictures show two graves caving in.

In them, you can see what investigators say is a vault.

What you can't see is the pungent smell seeping through the vaults.

Captain Paul Burch with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office tells WPMI it's the smell of human remains.

"It's human decomposition. There is just no other smell like it and that's clearly what we are smelling out here today," he explained.

Burch noted that this discovery is pushing investigators to speed up the process and exhume whatever's underground at Heritage Memorial Gardens. Families who have loved ones buried there have been wondering if there are actually buried there.

Burch says they still need more relatives to come forward.

"We ask family members who have loved ones out here if they haven't been in contact with us we would certainly like their permission to see what's in the ground," he said.

WPMI spoke with the victim's family where this odor is coming from.