Stolen remains found, returned to Clairton family
Already distraught by the recent death of his loved one, Robert Smith was shocked to find his father's cremated remains stolen from a vehicle parked outside his Clairton home.
When Smith entered his minivan at approximately 2:45 Monday afternoon, he looked inside a black box in the center console, where he kept the ashes of the late Richard J. Smith. The elder Smith died June 9 at age 75. He was a Korean War veteran who served in the Army.
“I was on my way to a doctor's appointment, and I discovered the lid to the memorial was open,” Smith said. “The remains were missing along with his medal. Nothing else was taken, and there were other things that would be of value to a thief in the vehicle at the time.”
He received a call on Monday night from police, who said they had recovered the ashes.
“They spent the taxpayers' money well,” Smith said. “They did a good job.”
He went to the police station and picked up the ashes.
Smith said police reported a young girl found the remains on a bench at the KaBOOM! Playground built across from Club 46 in the Wilson neighborhood.
He plans to visit girl's home on Tuesday to thank her for the discovery.
“Most kids don't even pay attention to (stuff) like that,” Smith said. “She did the right thing, nonetheless, and needs to be thanked for it. I don't know the girl's name or anything.”
Smith said he believes a possible drug addict is using a portion of the ashes.
“I think they'll be getting a part of my father with their product,” Smith said. “You hear all the time they cut this with that or mix it with additives and stuff. You know this is a high drug area ... It's sad.”
A medal the father received in recognition of his service in Korea remains missing. Police are searching for suspects.
The van had been parked in an alley behind his Mendelssohn Avenue home for approximately 24 hours before Smith noticed the missing ashes. Smith believes someone may have mistaken the remains for drugs because they were in a plastic bag inside the memorial box.
“It's a shame that he lost his father and is grieving and then somebody stole the ashes,” neighbor Greg Beluschak said. “What's he supposed to do?”
Clairton police Chief Rob Hoffman confirmed on Monday afternoon that Smith reported the incident to local police and that the matter is under investigation. Smith said he would not pursue criminal charges if the ashes were returned safely to his home or to Clairton police.
Michael DiVittorio and Jennifer R. Vertullo are a staff writers for Trib Total Media. Divittorio can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or email@example.com. Vertullo can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kennywood Holiday Lights festival returns for 5th year
- Homestead to offer select free-parking days during holiday season
- North Versailles’ Dance Company’s ‘Nutcracker’ expands with bonus program for students
- Elizabeth proposes big jump in small local services tax; councilwoman steps down
- Officials blame bad exhaust fan for carbon monoxide leak in Duquesne retirement home
- Model train exhibit raises funds for McKeesport club
- Suspect in Glassport man’s shooting death put on house arrest
- After 27 years, Clairton emerges from state ‘financially distressed’ status
- Elizabeth mayor hails police department’s role in ‘major’ heroin bust in Clairton
- Clairton City School District wins award for its anti-hunger efforts
- White Oak officials hope for mid-2016 completion of Lincoln Way project