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Entries in Ashes (3)

Friday
Nov092012

Ashes Found at Car Wash Linked to USC Football Player Turned Millionaire

Courtesy Liz Green at the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association(SAN DIEGO) -- Patrons have left their jewelry at the Ocean Beach Suds Car Wash in San Diego, Calif., before, and someone once left an artificial limb behind.  But never before has someone left a box of ashes -- and even stranger, never returned for them.

A gold metallic box with a faded sticker was left at the self-service car wash, but thanks to a local business nonprofit, the remains inside have brought new life to the story of Henry Lefebvre, who passed away over 17 years ago at the age of 94.

The investigation into the life of Lefebvre began after the car wash owner brought the box to the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association nearly three weeks ago, said Liz Greene, who works with the nonprofit association.

The owner, who happens to be Greene's father, found the box next to one of the vacuums at the five-stall car wash, and was sure someone would come back to pick them up, Greene said.  He contacted authorities with respect to the remains, she said, but no one ever retrieved them.

The sticker on the box read, "Secure Crematorium. This contains the remains of Henry Efebvre. Cremated on May 5, 1995."

"He passed them off to us, hoping we could figure it out," said Greene.  "So we posted it on our Facebook page.  Since then, the story's taken off like wild fire."

The post went up on Oct. 22 and read, "Ok...so this is a first. A local business owner turned in a box of cremated human remains today. He said a customer was cleaning out their car six months ago and never came back looking for them. Is this a Halloween prank?"

Greene said the Facebook post triggered calls from genealogists from Northern California, local news outlets and even some of Lefebvre's family members, who contacted the nonprofit hoping to help uncover the mystery of the remains and the deceased's identity.

"Once we realized someone had been hanging onto him for so long, we knew there had to be more to the story," said Ocean Beach MainStreet Association executive director Denny Knox.  "You can only hope that whoever was the last holder of him loved him so much, and that's why they had him for so long."

Knox said that with the help of genealogists, the nonprofit has learned that the deceased's last name was actually Lefebvre, and the "L" on the box had faded away.

Henry Lefebvre was born on Oct. 30, 1900.  He came from a big family; he had four brothers and three sisters.  His remaining family members had no idea he hadn't been properly buried, she said.

"They were under the impression that his ashes had been dedicated in a gravesite next to one of his wives," she said.

Lefebvre was a star running back at USC in the 1920s, according to ABC News affiliate KGTV.  His family members told KGTV that through football, he became friends with the actor John Wayne, who was his teammate.

Lefebvre was also the owner of the Sun-Aired Bag Company, a bag checking system used by pools, gymnasiums and motion picture companies for clothing storage, and he became very wealthy, Knox said.

Knox said she was able to get in touch with Lefebvre's nephew, Gary Lefebvre, who spoke highly of his uncle.

"Gary told me that, as far as his family goes, his mom didn't have much money at the time when the kids were growing up," Knox said.  "But he remembers Uncle Henry showing up with a car full of food quite often."

Knox said Henry Lefebvre was married a few times but never had any children.  He outlived all of his siblings, except one brother, who passed away a few weeks after he did.

Knox said the nonprofit has been taking good care of Henry Lefebvre's remains, and that his nephew is expected to pick him up on Nov. 12.

But the mystery remains as to who left the ashes at the car wash, or why they had them in the first place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr182012

Florida Man Threatened to Snort Dead Woman Ashes

File photo. Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(POLK COUNTY, Fla.) -- A Florida man is under arrest after police say he stole a dead woman's ashes and said he was going to snort them.

Joseph Pointer, 51, of Lakeland, was arrested on Thursday by authorities in Polk County.  He was charged with grand theft after being accused of stealing Melissa Williamson's ashes.

According to the Lakeland Ledger, Williamson is the deceased sister of Angela Speakman, with whom Pointer lived briefly with this month.

Speakman's mother said Pointer drove past her home on Wednesday and shouted: "I've got your dead daughter's ashes and I'm going to snort them," the Ledger reported.

Williamson died in a car crash in 2008.

According to court documents, Pointer also has a long list of prior offenses, including domestic violence, dealing in stolen property and drug possession.

Records show Pointer was held on $1,000 bail on this latest charge.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Air Force Admits More Ashes Sent to Landfill Than First Believed

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) -- The Air Force confirmed Thursday that as many as 274 sets of cremated partial remains were disposed of in a Virginia landfill, significantly more than had been originally acknowledged when the now-discontinued practice was first reported a month ago.

“We regret any additional grief the past practice may have caused,” said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services.

Jones briefed reporters after Thursday’s Washington Post article that detailed 274 instances prior to 2008 when the ashes of partial remains were disposed of in a southern Virginia landfill.

The Air Force Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware cremates any partial remains that might emerge after a family has taken possession of their loved one’s body. Jones described the partial remains as usually consisting of small pieces of soft tissue or bone fragments. Families are provided with a form where they can choose to not be notified if such remains emerge and agree to the military disposing of such remains.

From 2003 to 2008, the mortuary would send additional partial remains to a funeral home that would then send them to a contractor for cremation. The ashes would then be disposed of in a southern Virginia landfill. When presented with the forms, families were not told that the disposition meant that the ashes would ultimately be sent to a landfill.

In June 2008, the new head of the mortuary reviewed the practices at Dover and concluded that disposing cremated partial remains at sea was a more fitting option. The “retirement at sea” has since become standard practice for the mortuary.

Asked if the practice prior to 2008 was disrespectful, Jones answered, “It is certainly not the way we would have done it. Looking back, that’s why in 2008 when we saw that practice we changed that practice.”

Jones said 14 urns containing the ashes of partial remains have been taken out to sea aboard a Navy ship for “retirement at sea.” The urns are made of salt so they will dissolve in water. After the briefing, Jones said the 14 urns were all taken out to sea in January 2011 in a group retirement at sea.

The Air Force has established a hotline since the practices at the Dover Mortuary have been in the news. So far, it has received nine calls and only one that dealt specifically with the issue of the ashes being placed at the landfill. The number is 1-855-637-2583, or questions can be sent via e-mail to dover.pm@pentagon.af.mil.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio