Ashes of Mackay couple found on a street in Victoria, handed to police as lost property
A standard-model urn held by David Clayton of the funeral home where the couple was cremated. (ABC Tropical North: Angel Parsons)
A police station in Victoria has put out a call for more information after being handed urns containing the ashes of two people from north Queensland.
In early December, two residents of Morwell, about 150 kilometres from Melbourne, stumbled upon two urns in the street.
When they handed their find in to the local police station, officers determined the remains were that of a Mr and Mrs Stone who were cremated more than 2,000 kilometres away in Mackay.
How did the urns end up on an interstate street?
Senior Constable Kelly Hicks of the Latrobe Proactive Policing Unit at the Morwell station said it was a very bizarre case, and one they could not yet explain.
“Usually we get wallets handed in with an ID in them or an address, or bicycles that are left at shops … [and] get handed in as lost property,” Senior Constable Hicks said.
“But to get remains handed in as lost property is definitely a first here at Morwell.”
Their attempts to contact the next of kin have been unsuccessful.
Senior Constable Hicks, who helps to run a Facebook page for the police district, said she first heard about the case when approached by a colleague who thought social media might provide some answers.
“She said she had a bizarre request and wanted to know if I could [put a] … post on the Facebook page in relation to some cremated remains that had been located.
“We were both shocked about this,” Senior Constable Hicks said.
“It’s not often we get someone handing in containers with remains in them.”
The Facebook post called for anyone with information about Mr and Mrs Stone’s next of kin, or any relevant information at all, to come forward.
“Now we’re putting it out to the community to help us return them to their rightful family and loved ones because we’re at the end of where we can investigate it.”
Since it was posted on Christmas Eve, the call-out has been shared almost 500 times across the country and made its way into Mackay family history and crime watch groups.
“It has been shared with lots of Stone families up there so we are very hopeful that we can return them,” Senior Constable Hicks said.
A collection of urns for sale at the funeral home where Mr and Mrs Stone were cremated. (ABC Tropical North: Angel Parsons)
Police aren’t able to release any further information about the Stones, because the withheld information, such as the date of death and cremation, will be used in verification processes should someone come forward.
The Mackay funeral home where the couple was cremated said it did not have any answers either.
David Clayton, Newhaven Funerals and Crematorium manager, says it is a mystery how the ashes came to be in Victoria. (ABC Tropical North: Angel Parsons)
David Clayton, Newhaven Funerals and Crematorium manager, said they kept a record of when ashes had been passed on and to whom, but if next of kin could not be contacted, it was anyone’s guess as to how the remains came to be discovered in Victoria.
“Every urn that leaves the crematorium here has a file number, also the deceased’s full name and date of cremation and date of passing as well, so they’re the identifying features that the police have,” Mr Clayton said.
“Families are spread out all around Australia and around the world so ashes can end up anywhere at anytime,” he said.
“It just depends on where that next of kin and family are and what they’ve done with them,” Mr Clayton said.
Senior Constable Hicks said police had not given up.
“With the power of social media, we are very hopeful,” she said.
If the remains aren’t claimed within the next three months, they’ll be returned to Newhaven Funerals and Crematorium for safekeeping.
Mr and Mrs Stone were cremated at Mackay’s Newhaven Funerals and Crematorium, long before their remains were found in Victoria. (ABC Tropical North: Angel Parsons)