The Guilford County Board of Commissioners does a lot of interesting work but that level of interest got bumped up a notch recently when the board was presented with an eye-opening – or rather casket-opening – task: Dig up a dead body and move it.
The nine commissioners didn’t actually have to grab shovels and move the body themselves, but it turns out that anytime a body must be dug up in the county it requires the approval of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners – which is exactly what the board provided in the case of a High Point mystery body that had to be relocated.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said that, when he was elected to the board six years ago, he didn’t know this would be part of the job.
“This is the first time we’ve been presented with that situation since I’ve been on the board,” Branson said. “I don’t remember exhuming a body before.”
Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller said this type of action is required by the board on a rare basis – whenever bodies have to be moved for whatever reason. It might be because of new road construction, the closure of a cemetery or a host of other reasons.
In this case, an unknown body was found in a grave at Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in High Point. According to paperwork that the City of High Point provided to Guilford County, a body at the cemetery was buried in a plot that was deeded to someone else. The City of High Point made attempts to locate records or find any information regarding the “Unknown Decedent” in the grave; however, the grave had no headstone or other markings and there were no records that could identify the individual who’ll hopefully now be placed in a new grave where he or she can rest in peace for all eternity.
The Guilford County Health Department oversees the process any time a body is dug up, transported and reburied. Usually that process takes about three hours.