Three boxes of cremated remains found on side of road - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Cremated remains found on side of road are animal remains, say coroner


It appears a mystery had been solved.

A burglary victim who lives a stone's throw away from a road where boxes of cremated remains were found Sunday says the ashes are those of her dogs.

The homeowner says remains of her American Bulldog and two Cocker Spaniels were stolen during a November 6 burglary. Also taken were a gun, a laptop, and a PlayStation 3.

The Lexington County Coroner's Office also confirmed that the remains were animal in nature and they dated back to 2003.

All three of the wooden boxes were discovered by Erin Gunter's husband and nephew on the side of Able's Mill Road.

At first glance, they might have resembled jewelry boxes or maybe cigar humidors. But they quickly realized what they holding were, in fact, containers for cremated remains.

"I believe that there was probably a break-in nearby and whoever got them probably thought that they contained valuable items. Jewelry, something of the sort," said Gunter.

After our report aired on Tuesday, the burglary victim came forward and said Gunter was right. She said she had the three boxes on her dresser next to her jewelry box the day they were stolen.

Both boxes were sealed with screws, but it appeared someone had opened one of the containers, spilling some of the foam packing material inside on the ground.

Gunter says she wanted her sister to take a look.

"She has helped spread ashes before, so just kind of for other confirmation on it we wanted her to look at it and just confirm it, and as soon as she saw them she said that's exactly what it is," said Gunter.

There are no labels or inscriptions on the boxes or plastic bags inside; nothing to identify what they contain, whether they're human or animal or who they belong to.

Gunter says she called the Lexington County Sheriff's Department and a deputy responded.

"A very skittish deputy came out. Hands remained in his pockets. He would not even walk toward us. In fact, he backed up as I got closer to him with the boxes," said Gunter. "He informed us those boxes were not riding with him."

Gunter says she was told to keep the boxes and wait for an email that still hasn't arrived.

We have asked the sheriff's department to explain its response to the report. As of this report, we were still waiting to hear from the sheriff's spokesman.

A written statement from a spokesperson for the Lexington County Sheriff's Department told us the department can't find any documentation the agency handled a call involving cremated remains on Sunday. He also told us people who find remains should contact the Lexington County Coroner's Office.

We also contacted Lexington County Deputy Coroner Randy Martin. He told us the office would examine the boxes -- in particular the box that did not appear to have been opened. He said there may be a tag inside that could identify the contents or their owner.

Gunter says she just wants the boxes to be returned to their rightful owner. 

"That's my ultimate goal is to get the loved ones back where they need to be," said Gunter.

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