BRIDGEPORT -- A former Bridgeport cemetery manager appeared before a judge Tuesday.
She was arrested after a police investigation found new grave sites were placed on top of old ones in the city's Park Cemetery.
Dale LaPrade, 64, appeared briefly in Bridgeport Superior Court, requesting representation by a public defender, which was granted. FOX61's interview request was tersely denied by LaPrade, who said, "Don't take my picture. I'm telling you right now," as her husband, Daniel LaPrade, the longtime former Park Cemetery manager, wheeled her out of court in a wheelchair.
Dale LaPrade, who claims she was a temporary manager of the Park Cemetery, was arrested December 6 and charged with interference with a cemetery or burial ground following a two month Bridgeport Police Department investigation.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, it suggests that in the far right back corner of the cemetery, there were several buried veterans, including those that fought in the Civil War and multiple other historical graves, where head stones were missing and new graves were dug, as recently as September of this year.
The warrant also states that a state genealogist, archaeologist, anthropologist and a U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist found human bones and casket fragments, dating back to the early 20th and late 19th centuries, while inspecting this freshly mounded site in the cemetery
Police said a grave digger at Park Cemetery told them he also has found bones and has brought that to Mrs. Laprade's attention. But, he claims, she advised him to return the bones to the excavated hole and continue digging.
On this site, FOX61 found a grave that dates back to 1914. Surrounding it, people who have died within the last two years. One cemetery visitor said the 104-year-old, out of place headstone, used to be next to his mother's grave site, an aisle or two from where it now rests.
And right next to this fresh burial ground, complete disrespect. Old headstones could be clearly seen discarded among brush and weeds.
Police said Dale LaPrade told them she believes she has the right to reuse grave sites after 100 years, but a member of the CT Cemetery Association told FOX61 you need the approval of the family, whose loved one is already buried on a site, before burying someone else on top of an existing grave.
Dale LaPrade has been ordered to handover all cemetery records, which, police say, is a request she has not complied with several times in recent months.