Questions remain about Cranston’s abandoned mausoleum

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Last November, Target 12 revealed how the remains of more than 500 Rhode Islanders were left abandoned in a crumbling mausoleum in Cranston.

Since then, more than a dozen bodies have been removed from the condemned building, but questions remain unanswered about what will happen next.

The Roger Williams Park Mausoleum was condemned in 2007, locking out families whose loved ones were abandoned inside.

The owner of the mausoleum died years ago, and left no money or successor for its upkeep. After a Target 12 Consumer Investigation, the city of Cranston agreed to take on the monumental task of securing the building, just long enough to allow families to remove their loved ones.

Since then, workers armed with hazmat suits and masks have taken down the boards, returned the brass plaques that once marked the crypts, and reunited a family – moving a husband and wife to a more respectful resting place for their daughters to visit. The removal, however, came at a cost.

Families have paid about $6,000 to retrieve a body – a price that some simply haven’t been able to afford, forcing them to walk away without closure.

The city has promised to continue removing bodies at families’ requests, but at some point, the building will become too unsafe to enter.

Target 12 asked what will happen next.

“That’s a good question, because I’ve reached out to every agency in the state and nobody wants to take responsibility,” said Jeffrey Barone, Director of Constituent Affairs in Cranston.

But someone or some agency may soon have no choice.

“I wouldn’t know where to go if, God forbid, something happened where we couldn’t go in there anymore because the building collapsed,” Barone said. “I’ll tell you, I would be heart broken. I would be heart broken.”

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