FALFURRIAS, Texas (CBS) — Students and teachers from the University of Indianapolis will continue a difficult task on Tuesday.
Authorities in Texas have asked them to help exhume the remains of dozens of people who may have died trying to start a new life in the U.S.
In Falfurrias, Texas — which lies between San Antonio and the U.S. border — a team of students and forensic anthropologists are digging for answers. The group includes students from Central Indiana.
“The experience has been surreal. I mean I completely feel like I came into oblivious,” University of Indianapolis student Cheneta Morrison said.
Students and teachers from the University of Indianapolis and a Texas school are working to exhume the remains of undocumented immigrants. Authorities say the immigrants may have died while trying to walk around a border checkpoint and avoid being caught by border patrol.
The county where this happened says it does not have the resources to identify every body found.
“Knowing that people are buried as unknown with no identification, it’s a harsh reality,” Morrison said.
Teams dig without knowing where the bodies are. Most of the graves are unmarked, and there are no records of how many are buried.
At the end of this two-week project, the bodies will be sent to forensic analysis. The goal is to identify as many people as possible and return their remains to their families.
“They died because of their dreams. They’ve been put in the ground without a name and we fell very strongly that their families deserve to mourn them properly,” Dr. Krista Latham with the University of Indianapolis said.
Authorities say it could take up to a year to identify any bodies found. Forensic experts from the University of Indianapolis are known around the country. The university has a state of the art forensics lab that first opened in 1992. Scientists there help with dozens of police cases each year.