Los Angeles County buries unclaimed remains of 1,656 in mass grave

Mass Burial Crematory

Corey Moore/KPCC

Clergy members and others preside over a previous ceremony to honor 1,639 people whose remains were buried at the Los Angeles County Crematory and Cemetery in 2011.

Los Angeles County Wednesday buried the cremated remains of nearly 1,656 unclaimed people in a mass grave.

The annual internment took place at a county cemetery in Boyle Heights. A few dozen people showed up. They read prayers of different faiths and sprinkled flower petals on the mass grave.

L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe attended the ceremony.

“You know, all we’re attempting to do is each year is to give these folks the dignity of a decent burial and treat them as a human being,” Knabe said.

He said the remains were of people who died three years ago. They were either homeless, had no family or their relatives couldn’t afford to properly bury them.

“It takes about a three-year process, because they work very, very hard to find relatives or friends or family,” said Knabe. "If we’re able to ID them as military veterans, then the remains are sent to the Riverside National Cemetery for a proper veteran’s burial.”

Knabe said people who later discover they have a friend or family member buried at the Los Angeles County Crematory and Cemetery can add a plaque with the person’s name next to the year they were buried.

“So people do come back,” explained Knabe. “You know, all of a sudden it’s this uncle they hadn’t seen, or brother they hadn’t seen in 30 to 40 years. So they do still have the ability to identify by name, personally.”

The county Board of Supervisors observed a moment of silence for them at Tuesday’s meeting.

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