CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – This time of year burglars often steal Christmas gifts and electronics from homes, but something else was stolen during a break-in on South Uravan Street in Centennial on Tuesday.
The burglary has outraged the sheriff and the family is pleading for the return of something irreplaceable — a family member’s remains.
Dana Hanks was wrapping presents in the finished basement of her upscale Centennial home when the door bell rang, followed by a kicking noise.
“They broke into the laundry door,” Dana said.
Terrified, Dana locked herself in a bedroom and called for help.
“‘There’s somebody in the house, there’s somebody in the house, please help me,’ ” she said.
The burglars ransacked a bedroom and got away with Christmas gifts and electronics. But they also stole something that can never be replaced.
“I looked over and said to the sheriff, ‘Oh my God, that’s where my grandmother’s remains were,’ ” Dana’s husband John said.
He found an empty bag. From it, thieves had snatched a black plastic box containing the remains of 87-year-old Mary Jane Crutchfield.
“I just went speechless,” John said.
The family had plans to bury Crutchfield’s remains next month next to her husband, William, at the National Veterans Cemetery in Santa Fe, N.M.
“I can’t imagine that. What people can do this sort of stuff — just stealing one week before Christmas,” Dana said.
Stealing someone’s ashes was called “outrageous” by Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.
But John wondered if it was intentional. He’s hopes somehow, someway, the family will still be able to bury Crutchfield’s remains beside her late husband.
“I really want my grandmother’s ashes back,” John said. “My family needs it for closure.”
Half a dozen home burglaries have been reported in the past couple months in the area. One suspect was arrested and investigators are looking for a second. Robinson says it’s premature to tie the stolen ashes to the earlier crimes.