• Ashes returned to family after 16 years: 'This is not a TV, this is not an Xbox'

    By: Wendy Corona

    Updated:

    ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. - It took 16 years, but a woman’s ashes are finally back in the hands of her family … thanks in large part to the relentless efforts of a single officer.

    Dr. Mabel Shaw passed away in 2001 and shortly thereafter, an urn containing her ashes was stolen from her son’s home.

    Fast-forward to 2014, and the remains ended up at a recycling plant in Rockdale County.

    “A full urn, (that was) a first,” said Pete Leonetti, with Allied Recycling. “My heart went out to the situation. It’s tough enough to have someone pass on.”


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    Leonetti, the man who noticed the urn, called the sheriff’s office and Investigator Kelly Pugh got involved.

    “At the time, we kind of waited to see if anyone would come forward and over time, no one did,” Pugh said.

    Pugh said he was determined to find to whom the urn belonged.

    “This is someone. This not a TV, this is not an Xbox. This is someone’s remains,” Pugh said.

    A marker on the urn led Pugh to a mortuary in Macon. They were eventually able to track down Shaw’s family.

    Now, after years of running down leads, the remains are back with Shaw’s family.

    “It means a great deal to me and my husband and the rest of the family, but especially because we cared for Mabel until she passed away from pancreatic cancer,” said Bonita Shaw, Mabel Shaw’s sister-in-law.

    Mabel Shaw’s family is laying her to rest in North Carolina on Saturday. Family from across the country is gathering to give her a proper burial.

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