Condemned mausoleum becomes hot spot for trespassers

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – The Roger Williams Park Mausoleum continues to crumble with hundreds of bodies inside, and the condemned building has become a haven for trespassers, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

“It’s very dangerous in there,” Jeffrey Barone, a Cranston city official, said. “Even if the building doesn’t fall on you, you can’t spend too much time in there with that asbestos floating around the air.”

The mausoleum has been boarded up and fenced off for years.

But someone – maybe several people – recently broke in through a window on the side of the building.

Barone said it appears that people are going in and out of the mausoleum regularly.

“They found some sleeping bags and stuff like that,” Barone said. “They cleared all that stuff out.”

“That is definitely an issue,” he added. “There are some valuables, valuable stuff in there. A lot of the plates that are posted on the crypts are brass, so people have been taking those.”

When asked if the city would be liable if an incident happened inside the mausoleum, Barone said the question would be referred to the city’s legal department.

“The reason we took the responsibility to secure it is because we condemned it,” Barone said.

The trespassers haven’t been caught in the act, but city leaders say Cranston police are beefing up patrols in the area.

Cranston’s building and maintenance crews have also been instructed to conduct frequent perimeter checks of the mausoleum, according to Barone.

Following Target 12’s inquiry, the broken window was boarded up and the fence was mended – another attempt to preserve the resting place of hundreds of people who are still entombed in the walls.

Bodies were most recently removed from the mausoleum in 2016.

According to Barone, the city has no records of who is buried there, but he said there are protocols in place for anyone who wants to move a loved one to a new resting place. To start the process, contact Leanne Zarrella in Cranston’s constituent affairs office at (401) 780-3123.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.