I-Team: Forgotten, Poor Children Buried in Unmarked Graves

LAS VEGAS -- At a recent memorial service for a baby murdered in foster care, a Las Vegas child advocate made a startling discovery. Alongside the visible graves, were dozens more unmarked burial sites -- babies buried without markers or headstones.

When a baby dies and no one steps up to make his or her final arrangements, Clark County pays for the burial, but not a marker or a headstone. County officials say it's simply a resource issue. Child advocate Donna Coleman says she can't stomach that explanation and won't rest until every child has a proper resting place.

At a recent service for Baby Boy Charles, an infant murdered by his foster mother, Coleman questioned the empty space between the headstones. "I started wondering, there must be babies here that don't have headstones, because baby boy didn't have one for three years," she said.

A list provided by the cemetery notes plots visible only on paper. Poor, abandoned, or unidentified boys and girls buried at Woodlawn Cemetery by Clark County. "It's just important that they don't die without any kind of recognition they were ever alive," she said.

Using the headstones of children who's passing we remember, Coleman searches for the forgotten. "It's not right. These children had very short, terrible little lives and now we've just buried them and right here as a matter of fact, in this area right here, there are seven unmarked graves right in this general area," she said.

In Woodlawn alone, nearly 100 children rest unseen. Coleman envisions a headstone for every child, like Adacelli Snyder and Baby Boy Charles, buried here together. "They were so neglected when they were little so we don't need to continue that process. We can do better than that," she said.

Coleman vows to lead the effort in this place she now can't avoid. She hopes to begin with headstones for the children with connections to the child welfare system. She's working with the Clark County Department of Family Services to identify those names. So far DFS staff have verified seven of them.


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