PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The FBI exhumation of a body from a Providence cemetery is linked to a three-decade-old murder investigation in Smithfield, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Members of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team descended on North Burial Ground Tuesday, digging up the remains of a man in the Potter’s Field section of the cemetery that abuts I-95.
That section of the cemetery sits apart from the rest of the burial ground and is pockmarked with dozens of small headstones adorned with four-digit numbers. The FBI dig was at grave marker 6548. Records at the burial ground list the interred as an “unknown male” who was buried in 1992. The interment date, however, does not mean that is when the person was killed, just when they were buried at the cemetery.
Smithfield police officers were with the FBI during the dig. Chief Richard St. Sauveur declined to comment on the investigation. But Target 12 has independently confirmed the probe is linked to a body found in Smithfield more than 30 years ago.
On Tuesday, Kristen Setera – a spokesperson for the Boston office of the FBI – said the “Evidence Response Team is conducting law enforcement activity in connection with an ongoing investigation.”
“To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are going to decline comment but we can assure you there is no threat to public safety,” said Setera.
The ERT is a specialized unit of the FBI that “specializes in collecting evidence from different types of crime scenes,” according to the agency’s website. It is made up of special agents, forensic analysts and canine consultants.
In 2016, the ERT was called in to exhume the remains of Steven DiSarro from behind a mill building on Branch Avenue in Providence. The discovery triggered a chain of events that ultimately led to the federal conviction of former New England mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme.
A jury found Salemme guilty in 2018 of DiSarro’s murder. The former mafia Don, who is now 89 years old, lost an appeal earlier this year and is serving a life sentence at a federal prison in Missouri.
Potter’s Field at North Burial Ground was formed in 1960 as a place for free burials. The final burial took place in 2013.
Tim White (email@example.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.