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Whistleblower: Hundreds of graves missing from old Catholic cemetery in Tampa

As state lawmakers and city leaders gathered Thursday in Robles Park Village at the site of the destroyed Zion Cemetery to mark the passage of a new law protecting erased African American burial grounds, the whistleblower who led archaeologists to hundreds of lost graves across Tampa Bay pointed to the possibility of hundreds more just a few blocks away. “Today, I mentioned some math not working,” said Ray Reed, a former Hillsborough County worker who researches missing cemeteries. “At least 800 bodies unaccounted for from the cemetery next door, formerly known as Catholic/St. Mary's.” The Catholic/St. Mary’s Cemetery was once located in the 3500 block of Florida Avenue, a few minutes from Zion, where archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar and careful digs to confirm nearly 300 graves. They found them at the Tampa Housing Authority’s Robles Park Village, a neighboring towing lot and an empty building owned by Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart.

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