Human remains found in downtown Phoenix, historian knows why

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- In downtown Phoenix, archaeologists are digging up pieces from the past at the spot where the new administration building is under construction for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

“The minute I heard it, I knew they left some behind and that's what these are,” said Frank Barrios with the Pioneer Cemetery Association.

Barrios has an idea what construction crews found this week at 5th Avenue and Jackson.

“They hit on remains of the old Phoenix Cemetery,” said Barrios.

The historian said the old cemetery, from the late 1800's, was once at 5th Avenue and Jackson Street and falling apart.

That's when the bodies were moved to the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, not too far away at 15th Avenue and Madison Street.

“There are probably two reasons they were left behind,” said Barrios.
The historian suspects some people couldn't afford to relocate their family member's bodies.

The second reason Barrios said is more realistic.

“Maybe the headstones had disappeared and they didn't know where the bodies were,” explained Barrios.

Construction for the new Maricopa County Sheriff's Office administration building has not stopped. A small section of the site is cornered off for the archaeological dig.

Now historians are just waiting to find out what county officials plan on doing with the remains.

Barrios hopes the remains will be relocated to the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park.

County officials will not comment publicly on how many remains were found or what the plan is for them.