Sunday, August 24, 2003

Man buys box, finds human ashes inside

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A man who bought a wood box for $2 because it looked interesting opened it and found ashes inside, with a note identifying whose cremains they were. He located the woman's daughter and will be sending the remains to her.

"I don't think that is what someone's life should boil down to ... $2 at a thrift store," said Rocky Oldaker, who bought the box along with a stuffed animal and picture frame.

Oldaker said he could tell something was inside when he shook the box at Village Discount Outlet, but it was screwed shut.

When he unscrewed the bottom at home, Oldaker discovered a plastic bag of ashes and a note identifying them as those of June Peltier of Marion, Mich.

Peltier, 77, died of natural causes on Nov. 15, 1999, said one of her daughters, Linda Bigford.

"I'm just so embarrassed," said Bigford, 56, of Marion, Mich. "I can't believe my sister would let this happen."

Bigford said her sister, Melody Parker, was responsible for the ashes but the sisters haven't spoken since Parker moved to somewhere central Ohio in November. A home telephone listing could not be found for Parker.

"I know my sister wouldn't knowingly get rid of it," Bigford said. "She had to mistake it for something else."

Employees at the Village Discount Outlet said they don't know how the box arrived there. A manager, who declined to give his name, said employees wouldn't normally open a box that was screwed shut.

Oldaker told Bigford last week he would mail the ashes to her.

"I'm not going to send it first-class or anything," he said, noting that he lives on disability payments.

Bigford said she would reimburse Oldaker.

"I feel so bad," she said. "No matter what, nobody deserves to be put in a box and just discarded like this."

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