Florida developers want to build townhouses on a 3-acre plot of land that once housed a black cemetery. But residents are raising a question first: What happened to all the bodies buried there? The Deerfield Beach City Commission will hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss the development, continuing a 40-year dispute over how to handle land where 300 to 400 people may have been buried as far back as the 1800s, the Sun-Sentinel reports. "I saw it with my own eyes, I am a living eyewitness," says 83-year-old Benjamin Miller of family and friends once buried there. If someone relocated the bodies, "they didn't notify me, and they didn't notify my mother, and they didn't notify my daddy." Mayor Jean Robb says bodies were moved to another cemetery decades ago, but hasn't been able to confirm that story.
"There are no bodies there," she says in an earlier Sun-Sentinel piece. "It's been undeveloped for years. It will add to the tax rolls. Why leave it empty?" Back in 1974, bulldozers cleared away the last tombstones for a development project, but irate residents brought that plan to a halt. Now, officials say two studies confirm that the bodies are gone—one by Florida Atlantic University anthropologists, who used a magnetometer to identify underground objects, and one paid for partly by the property owner. The latter concluded that 34 or more bodies were relocated to another cemetery in 1974. But bodies or no, some residents still don't like it: "My father said if they ever build on that gravesite, that the building will be haunted, spirits will walk in, and they will always regret they put a building up there," says a 73-year-old woman.