Starved Girl Buried in $35 Grave

Press-Enterprise, Mar 25, 1988 · Page 1

WILLIAMSPORT – Perhaps a dozen mourners gathered Thursday as Beatrice Bird was buried on a hill in a $35 grave.

Beatrice, 3, died Sunday. Columbia County Coroner Grant Clark said she starved to death and ruled her death a homicide.

Thursday was a warm day, the kind of day that makes a kid itch to get outside and play. Drivers traveling on the highway that cleaves the cemetery slowed to look through opened windows at newspaper and television reporters standing near the cemetery’s offices.

A cemetery official said the Bird family requested that no reporters be allowed near the grave during the services.

As the short procession of mourners ascended to the highest point of the Wildwood Cemetery and Crematorium, the sound of a backhoe rumbled from another section of the graveyard.

No backhoe was needed to dig Beatrice Bird’s grave. The girl, who weighed 18 pounds when she died, was buried in grave that measured two feet wide by three feet long. It took only a few minutes to dig it and only a few minutes to fill it back in when the graveside service ended.

The service lasted about 20 minutes.

The girl was buried at the end of a tiny row of graves in a section of the cemetery reserved for children whose parents do not have much money. Many of the graves were fresh. Tiny metal signposts noted their occupants.

The cemetery opened in 1863. The lower section is filled with elaborate mausoleums and spired monuments built when Williamsport was a wealthy lumber town.

John and Robin Bird, Beatrice’s guardians, brought their three daughters to the service. “We’re not saying anything else,” Robin told a reporter before the procession to the gravesite began.

The Birds talked to reporters earlier in the week, telling them that Beatrice was a healthy child who had a hard time putting on weight and who “fell down a lot.”

The girl’s shins, forearm, head and neck were bruised, according to an autopsy.

After workers finished tamping down the dirt on Beatrice Bird’s grave they got into their truck and moved to another site; Beatrice was one of 10 people buried at the Wildwood Cemetery and Crematorium on Thursday.

Before the last man left the site, however, he picked up a lone vase of mums and gardenias and laid them gently on the grave.

On the flowers was a note: “With deepest sympathies, brothers and sisters.”

Beatrice, the illegitimate daughter of John C. Bird and Linda Haines, had at least eight half-brothers and sisters, including her guardian, John W. Bird.

When the service began it was sunny, but by the time the workers drove away low gray clouds filled the sky and a warm wind blew at the bare branches of trees still stiff with winter.

One thought on “Starved Girl Buried in $35 Grave

  1. I am late in responding But not late in love/ concern/connection Just been busy …. Life stuff

    I re read your write again this morning Always puts “things” in to real life terms How’s your gang? Worry/wonder about where your” girls” are? They’ll always be your girls even though marriage has enter the story! Same w my two kidddos❤️

    Hope to talk soon Miss ya K

    Sent from my iPad



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