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Stolen ashes of baby found on Oahu beachStolen ashes of infant taken during Oahu home burglary found on beach, returned to mother
HONOLULU (AP) ' An infant's ashes that were stolen during a Hawaii burglary have been found on a beach and returned to the baby's mother.
A woman walking on the Hauula beach Thursday spotted the plastic bag carrying the remains of Leimomi Kahele's five-day-old son, who died in 2004, Honolulu police said.
The bag was perched on a rock ledge, where it was protected from waves. It was nestled next to a photo album that was also taken during the break-in of Kahele's Waialua home the day before. The house was ransacked and other belongings, including cash and a DVD player, were stolen.
"They obviously knew what they did was wrong," Kahele, 25, said Friday. "They put our photo album and his ashes in such a beautiful place. It wasn't just some bushes on the side of the road."
Police spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said documents identifying the baby were found with the ashes. The woman who found them looked up the baby's name online and discovered the ashes were stolen, KHON-TV reported.
A ceramic urn that held the ashes remains missing, Sluyter said. An investigation is ongoing.
Kahele and her family drove all over the North Shore of Oahu Thursday looking for signs of the urn. She got a call later in the afternoon from KHON, which first reported the theft, saying the ashes had been found in Hauula, about 20 miles away.
Kahele saw a picture that the station posted on its Facebook page and immediately recognized the area, near a beach known as Alligator Pond.
"Being from the country, we knew where to go and what beach it was," she said. While driving there with her husband, she got a call from police saying the woman who found the ashes had taken them to her home nearby. That's where Kahele was reunited with her son's remains.
"When she handed me that bag, it was a weight lifted off me," Kahele said. "I felt warm inside again."
The ordeal forced her to relive being an 18-year-old first-time mom, going into labor 15 weeks early and making the decision to take her newborn off life support.
"It's heart-breaking when you lose a child," Kahele said. "When I lost him again it was 100 times more devastating."
Now that's she reunited with his remains, she has come up with a new way to store them.
"I used to sleep with his urn, and it was hard and ceramic," she said. She now plans to buy a soft, cuddly teddy bear and sew the bag of ashes inside: "I want to be able to feel like I'm holding him again."
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