The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 4, 2013

Texas scholar's work to ID immigrant corpses is gratifying -- and sad

(Continued)

Then last year, Texas authorities saw an increase in the number of migrants crossing the border illegally, outpacing Arizona for the first time in a decade. Baker revived her project and headed back to the border with a team of students.

In Del Rio, a small border city about 360 miles southwest of Waco, they unearthed six remains, including an infant and a baby, and sent information about them to NamUs.

Jen Husak, a senior forensic anthropology major from Robinson, Texas, excavated graves with Baker and said she appreciated the anthropologist’s empathy.

“I don’t have this cold professor. I have someone who really cares,” she said.

In May, Baker and her student volunteers traveled to Brooks County, epicenter of the recent increase in illegal immigration and deaths. They worked with funeral home staff members, sheriff’s deputies and residents to retrieve remains from ranch land and makeshift burial plots.

Some graves were unmarked. Most had small metal signs with state death record numbers or the ranch locations and dates when the remains were found. Other signs were stamped “unidentified case,” “unidentified female,” “skeletal remains” or simply “Bones.” Some remains had been buried in wood boxes, others in body bags or the bare earth.

Brooks County Chief Deputy Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez said local ranchers appreciated the respectful way Baker worked with them to locate and excavate remains on their massive properties.

Baker has also been marshaling added resources, getting help from anthropologists in the military and at other universities.

She still wrestles with the human toll, which she says “hurts my soul.”

“It is difficult to see this devastation and speak with grieving families and not feel brutally wounded,” Baker said. “It is hard to look at my sons at night and not cry for all of those who have lost their children.”

Sometimes, Baker gets to tell a family that remains do not belong to their loved one.

“They rejoice,” she said, “but then they call back a few days later and say, ‘What now?’ ”

———

©2013 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

—————

PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): IMMIGRANTS-REMAINS

----------

Topics: t000027855,t000037344,t000037345,t000003142,g000362661,g000065562,g000066164

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Congress racing to finish Congress races to finish veterans, highway bills

    July 31, 2014

  • Target New CEO [Duplicate] Target names Pepsi's Cornell as chairman, CEO MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target has hired Pepsi executive Brian Cornell as its new chairman and CEO as it looks to recover from a huge data breach and troubles in Canada. Cornell replaces interim CEO John Mulligan, who is chief financial officer for the M

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brain wave monitoring is better gauge than using a focus group, study says To predict a large population’s likely response to something — a product, politician or policy — political consultants, marketing gurus and advertising execs have long favored the focus group. Ask a small segment of the target audience what it thinks

    July 31, 2014

  • Argentina slides into default as debt talks fail NEW YORK (AP) — The collapse of talks with U.S. creditors sent Argentina into its second debt default in 13 years and raised questions about what comes next for financial markets and the South American nation's staggering economy. A midnight Wednesd

    July 31, 2014

  • Exchange Bee Researcher [Duplicate] Bee researcher takes aim at central Minnesota park WAITE PARK — Crystal Boyd strained four bees, three flies and one leafhopper from a yellow pan trap, the third of 12 in a transect topping a granite outcrop in Quarry Park Scientific and Natural Area.She popped everything into a labeled, zip-top plas

    July 31, 2014 4 Photos

  • Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies at 90 Filmmaker Robert Drew, a pioneer of the modern documentary who in "Primary" and other movies mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and schooled a generation of influential directors that included D.A. Pennebaker and Albert M

    July 30, 2014

  • Homeowner killed, another injured in Vegas crime spree LAS VEGAS — A horrific carjacking and home invasion spree ended with two people dead and a woman in critical condition. One victim, Richard Ramos, a 59-year-old father of four, “fought to his death” to protect his wife and children from their attack

    July 30, 2014

  • Officer Shooting Minnesota-9 [Duplicate] UPDATE: Suspect in Minnesota officer killing in custody WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Police in Minnesota say a man wanted in the shooting death of an officer is in custody after being shot by police. St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos says 39-year-old Brian Fitch Sr. got out of a minivan firing at

    July 30, 2014 4 Photos

  • Officer Shooting Minnesota-3 [Duplicate] Minnesota officer killed making traffic stop WEST ST. PAUL (AP) — A police officer in Minnesota was fatally shot Wednesday while making a traffic stop and authorities said they were searching for a suspect. Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick, 47, was shot about 12:20 p.m. after pulli

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Possible suspect caught in Minnesota cop shooting WEST ST. PAUL (AP) — A potential suspect in the shooting of a police officer in Minnesota has been captured. Minnesota Public Radio News reports that the officer was killed. Television news footage showed the man being pulled from his vehicle Wednes

    July 30, 2014