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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stanley Ketchel

1910-11-21 The Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI) (page 9)
Brothers of Stanley Ketchel Open the Grave.
Family Not Satisfied About Death from Gunshot Wounds.
Relatives Say They Found Evidence of Beating--Young Girls Witness Disinterment.
In strange contrast to the pompous ceremony of the black robed priests and the morbid interest of thousands of curious visitors who gathered in the little Polish cemetery about a month ago to witness the burial of Stanley Ketchel, prizefighter, was another scene enacted at the same grave yesterday morning.

There was no crowd this time, but a few who had been informed of the plans stood by and watched the sexton throw the dirt covering from the casket which sheltered the body of Ketchel and crowded closer as the sealed coffin was raised carefully and deposited beside the excavation. The brothers and the undertaker pried off the lid and disclosed the shrunken form and then deliberately the corpse was examined, the burial shroud being removed to make the task easier.

Air of Mystery Is Thick.

An air of mystery surrounds the disinterment and among the few who know of the incident speculation is rife as to the exact reasons which actuated the three brothers in demanding to look once more upon the face of the dead.

The intention to take the corpse of the famous fighter from the resting place into which it had been lowered with so much ceremony a month ago was kept very quiet. The three brothers, John, Alexander and Leon Ketchel, came here from their farm near Belmont and made the necessary arrangements with I, Karasinski, the undertaker who had charge of the funeral. The little party repaired to the Polish cemetery about 9 o'clock and stood about while the earth was being removed.

Then ropes were placed under the casket and it was raised to the surface. It was opened immediately and the brothers made a careful examination of the body. Five of the little girls who had acted as flower bearers at the funeral were present when the casket was opened and were allowed to gaze upon the grewsome contents of the coffin. They were accompanied by two young women and besides these the only witnesses were three men and another woman.

Karasinski Is Elusive.

Mr. Karasinski maintained a most mysterious air this morning when questioned. "There was nothing out of the ordinary," he repeated time and again and when it was pointed out that the opening of a grave and the examination of the body always is out of the ordinary he replied, "The boys found out what they wanted to and for anything else you better see R. P. Dickerson."

R. P. Dickerson is the man with whom Ketchel went into the west on his fatal trip and who has figured prominently in the affairs of the fighter following his death.

Leon Ketchel was reached by telephone at the Ketchel farm and said to The Press, "We were not satisfied that Stanley came to his death by the gunshot wounds alone. Therefore we wanted to see the body. We found a deep abrasion over one eye which looks as if he had been clubbed. Of course we do not know if this was done before or after the shooting."

The young man did not say whether any further action in the matter is contemplated, but added exhuming had nothing to do with insurance.

No Officials Present.

One of the strange things about the examination at this time was the fact that the undertaker, Karasinski, made a thorough examination prior to the burial. Further than that there was no physician or official present yesterday when the grave was opened. Since Ketchel's tragic death there have been all sorts of stories afloat and it is declared there may be a legal fight over the possession of the property which he left.

According to friends of the family Dickerson declared his intention of paying the entire funeral expenses, but the bills all have been sent to the Ketchel brothers and these are said to amount to considerably more than $600. Whether anything will come of the disinterment to throw new light upon Ketchel's death is unlikely, but the brothers express themselves satisfied with the knowledge secured through their strange procedure.

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