The Body of Mrs. Cheek
The law against the desecration of graves by body snatchers is openly violated in this District night after night
Dr. A.C. Adams Charged with Taking It From Congressional Cemetery
The Remains Fully Identified--The Husband Appeals to the Law
Form of the Warrant Issued For the Arrest
The Jewelry Buried With the Body Missing
The law against the desecration of graves by body snatchers is openly violated in this District night after night, but prosecutions for the ghastly work are few. Potter's field is generally chosen as their scene of operations because they can go ther at any time after dark and drive off with their plunder undisturbed. A carriage resembling that abandoned Friday night with two dead bodies in it, as related in Saturday's Star, has stopped at or near the jail many nights and been left there, it is thought, until its occupant or occupants could go down to the burial place of the poor and carry off a ghastly burden. Friday night when the buggy drove near the jail it was seen by the prisoners and by the guards on duty. The guards were satisfied that there were cadavers in the vehicle, but they did not imagine that any other burial place than potter's field had been visited.
The Bodies of the Two Women
who had been taken from their graves were kept at the morgue Saturday afternoon. The officers there had been informed that both of them had been taken from potter's field, and for that reason no effort was made to have them identified. During the afternoon a young man called at the morgue and asked permission to see the body of the white woman, saying that his sister had been buried in the Congressional cemetery a few days ago. He saw the body and thought it was that of his sister, but when Station Clerk Tayman telephone to the East Washington station he was informed that the bodies had been removed from potter's field. He told this to the young man, but the latter left the station in an uncertain frame of mind.
Mrs. Cheek's Remains Stolen From Congressional Cemetery
Policeman Oliver, who had seen the white woman's body, thought that there was a look of refinement about her that is not often seen about persons who occupy graves in the pauper cemetery, and he was not satisfied with the investigation that had been made. He examined the body and found on an undergarment that was wrapped about it the name "B. Cheek."
The health office records were searched and it was found that Mrs. Alvina Cheek of No. 1015 South Carolina avenue southeast had died on the 14th instant of phthisis pulmonalls and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery last Tuesday.
The piece of clothing bearing the name was taken to the house and there it was learned that the name had been written on Mrs. Cheek's undergarment. This left no doubt but that Congressional cemetery had been robbed, although Mr. Cross., the superintendent, said that the graves were all right and had not been disturbed. The identification was complete when
The Heart-Broken Husband
reached the morgue and there saw the remains of his wife lying on the board ready to be placed in the ice box. Mrs. Cheek had been sick for some time and had gradually wasted away until there was hardly any flesh left on her form. Her remains with the body of her infant, which was only a few days old, were interred on a knoll overlooking the Anacostia river and not far from a gate which opens into the rear end of the work house grounds. The graves in the cemetery are not rammed, and for that reason the task of opening the grave was an easy one. The grave had been refilled and the flowers on it placed where they had been left by the bereaved husband. The body was no doubt taken through the gate or over the fence and stripped of clothing. Then it was carried through to potter's field and there kept until the body of Mary E. Hawkins was "lifted."
The Dead Babe
The grave was reopened yesterday and in the broken coffin was found the body of the child that had been buried in the grave with its mother.
Policeman Oliver made a thorough investigation of the buggy and in it were found the grave clothes that had been taken from the body of Mrs. Cheek and a heavy iron hook attached to a long rope which had been used in lifting the body from the grave.
Dr. A.C. Adams Claims The Buggy
No one came to claim the team until about noon, when Dr. A.C. Adams put in a claim. He appeared before Chief Clerk Sylvester of the police department and made affidavit in the usual form, as follows:
"Hdqrs. Of The Metropolitan Police,
Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 1889
Personally appeared before me, Richard Sylvester, property clerk of the metropolitan police district, A.C. Adams, of Washington, D.C., who, upon his oath, says that he is the owner of one bay horse with white spots on its sides and a top buggy; that the same was estrayed from him on or about the 19th day of December, 1889; and that the same is now in the custody of the property clerk of the police dipartment. Sworn to before me this 22d day of December, 1889.
Chief, also Prop. clk. M.P., D.C."
The receipt for the property was signed a.C. Adams, M.D.
When the doctor went to the sixth precinct station to get the horse and buggy he met Mr. Thos. B. Cheek, the husband of the dead woman. Mr. Cheek, was greatly incensed at what had taken place. He questioned the doctor sharply, but the latter said he did not own the team. The police lieutenant told them not to have any trouble there, and the doctor drove off with the buggy.
Later in the day Mr. Cheek called twice to see the doctor, but did not succeed.
Mrs. Cheek's Jewelry Missing
Before Mrs. Cheek died she requested that her jewelry be buried with her. Her request was complied with, but the jewelry, valued at about $30, cannot now be found.
Mrs. Cheek's remains were placed in a casket yesterday afternoon and again her bereaved friends followed the body to the cemetery. The remains were placed in the receiving vault where they will remain for some days.
A Warrant For Dr. Adams
This morning Mr. Cheek was at the Police Court and swore to a warrant against Dr. Arthur C. Adams unlawfully and wickedly did break and enter a grave, then and there being in Congressioanl cemeteryt, in which grave one Venie Cheek, deceased, had lately before there been interred, and then and there with force and arms unlawfully, wilfully and indecently did open the said grave and take away the body of the said Venie Cheek, to the evil example of all others to the like offending and against the form of the statute," etc.
Source: The Evening Star
Publication date: December 23, 1889