SUGAR LAND, Texas (FOX 26) - The body count continues to rise in Sugar Land where unidentified human remains have been uncovered at a construction site. Officials now report the discovery of 79 graves at the site at University Boulevard and Chatham Avenue, up from the 30 unmarked graves initially reported.
Now everyone from historians to archaeologists are working to figure out who the deceased people are.
It’s actually right across the field from the Imperial Prison Farm Cemetery, so it will be interesting to see if the two are connected. But it seems the more they dig, the more bodies they find.
"At this point, it’s clear we do have a historic cemetery on our property,” explains Fort Bend ISD spokesperson Veronica Sopher.
The dozens of graves discovered south of Highway 90 on University Boulevard as Fort Bend ISD worked to build a new Career Technology Center -- a school building that’s remarkable before it’s even built because plenty of people are already learning a lot thanks to the bodies being found on the land.
"I was like 'okay, where is all of this from? Where are these bodies from?'” says Sugar Land resident Jessica Lee.
"I'm not surprised. I’ve heard it was haunted,” says another resident.
"I feel like ghosts aren’t going to want to hang around their bodies,” Lee laughs.
Archaeologists are now working the land, looking for artifacts and trying to figure out everything they can about the old cemetery.
"We’re going to have to send off for testing to determine a time frame. We know it’s most likely more than 100 to 150 years but it could be even older than that,” Sopher adds.
The Texas Historical Commission is overseeing the process as Sugar Land residents take turns guessing who the remains belong to.
"We’re just thinking this is crazy. We’re trying to figure out where those bodies came from,” says Sugar Land resident Allison Michalek.
"I mean, we all knew this was all prison area and there were cotton fields and everything,” Lee adds.
"Maybe it was slaves that were buried before pre-Civil War possibly,” says another woman.
"Most recently (the land housed) a Texas prison. Before that it was private prison. Before that it was plantation land and family land. So there’s a myriad of possibilities of who these people could be,” says Sopher.
Sopher says it too early to tell the race or gender. All are believed to have been buried in wooden boxes, but according to Sopher most of the wood has now disintegrated and only the wooden knots remain. Fort Bend ISD’s project to build the new technology center is clearly on hold for the foreseeable future.