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Cemetery Becomes City Dump

Elsie Lascurian was a daughter on a mission.

"I've been searching for my father since I was a young child," Lascurian said. "Then when my daughter grew up, I said, we got to go down and find where he's buried."

What she found left her stunned, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan. The tiny city cemetery, an out of the way place by the railroad tracks where her father had been laid to rest, had become a city dump.

"I didn't want to go back there no more. I couldn't," Lascurian said. "I didn't think anybody could do what they did to destroy everything that was there."

Since the last body was buried in the cemetery in 1954, attorney Anthony Pope says the city began to lease portions of the land. Bit by bit, the cemetery disappeared. But the bodies were never removed. Pope says the law has been violated.

Archaeologists hired by the city of Newark confirmed 18,000 people were buried in the city cemetery.

Based on past records, they say the number could go as high as 200,000 bodies, all under land now even forgotten by the city. The city is under a court order to restore the site but has very few burial records.

For Lascurian, that means her father is still missing.

"I have a long fight, yes," Lascurian said. "I will continue as long as there is breath in me."

Or until she brings her father to the family plot in a cemetery far away from the tracks - under grass instead of mud.

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