Suspicious object turns out to be family treasure

A discarded urn that once held a young woman’s ashes is now back in the hands of a family member thanks to two South Kitsap women who plucked it from the side of the road last week.

Crystal Shelton, who lives in Port Orchard with her roommate, Debra Lane, said Lane first noticed an odd object discarded in a small clearing near the intersection of Ridge Rim Trail and Lakeway Blvd. several days ago.

“But she didn’t want to go back there by herself, so she asked me to go with her,” Shelton said, explaining that they both returned to the spot on April 11 when they had a day off to examine the item.

“It looked like a homemade bomb,” she said, describing part of it as a copper box that was packed alongside other items with duct tape. “So we called 911.”

Shelton said two Kitsap County Deputies did respond and examined the box, but later when the women came back to check on the object, it was still there.

“We’re nosy, so we wanted to know what it was,” Shelton said, explaining that this time when she looked at the object — which she described as looking like a glass fish tank with containers set inside of it with packing material and taped — it had been partially opened.

Shelton said based on the name and dates written on the copper box, it looked to be a urn, and she thought the boxes with it possibly contained cremated ashes.

“I walked back to Debra and told her, ‘You won’t believe what I found,’” Shelton said, explaining that they decided to take the items home, calling a local chapel for advice on what to do.

Using the name on the urn, Shelton said she located the mother of the deceased woman in Tacoma, who told her that the family had spread the woman’s ashes, but her sister would like to have the urn.

“She said the woman’s father had kept the urn, but he had remarried and passed away, and the family had lost track of him and the urn,” Shelton said.

After contacting the woman’s sister, Shelton said she and Lane met her in Tacoma to give her the urn. “She couldn’t believe it, and was so thankful,” she said.

On their way home, Shelton said they dropped off the two remaining boxes of ashes at a Gig Harbor funeral home to see if they could find relatives to claim them.

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said there is a record of Shelton calling 911 to report finding “a suspicious object” around noon on April 11 and that deputies responded.

“When it became apparent that it was a box of ashes, the Coroner’s Office was dispatched,” Wilson said.

Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom said his office had no record of being called on that matter.

Sandstrom said it is not a common occurrence to find discarded human ashes, and he could only remember a handful of such cases during his tenor as coroner. If people do find such remains, he said they should take them to his office.

“We will try and find an owner, if (the box) has a name on it,” he said, explaining that for remains that aren’t claimed, his office periodically holds services for groups of unclaimed ashes.

Shelton said she would still like to find a home for the other two boxes, and that if anyone recognizes a relative with the first name Gladys, middle initial “G,” last name beginning with “V,” who was born in December in 1907, they can call her at 876-6147.

She said the second box did not have any readable information.

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