LOST IN THE MAIL: Indiana man searches for mother's missing cremated remains

Published: Jun. 8, 2017 at 9:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2017 at 12:17 PM EDT
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SEYMOUR, IN (WAVE) - The cremated remains of a woman have been missing for four months after being shipped from Grand Forks, N.D., to Seymour, Indiana.

Donald Mink said he paid North Valley Crematory to mail his mother's remains after she died at a nursing home in February.

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"It's just been almost four months and I don't know what's going on with my mother's remains," Mink said.

According to the tracking number, the four-pound package was shipped on Feb. 28. But the shipment never made it to Seymour. Instead, the package's status reads "dead mail."

"She just passed away so quickly, we wasn't able to get out there to see her one last time," Mink said. "Then I found out I wouldn't be able to lay her to rest."

Mink said he's tried for months to get answers from the crematory that shipped his mother, as well as the United States Postal Service. Finally, Mink said the manager of the North Valley Crematory told him the devastating news over the phone.

"I am sorry to inform you your mom's remains have been lost," Mink recounted. "The post office is supposed to be getting ahold of you."

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A letter from Wayne Sykes, manager of North Valley Crematory, to the North Dakota State Board, details the packaging of Mary Mink. A portion of the letter states remains of Mrs. Mink were as follows:

"... placed in a heavy plastic liner bag, using the urn fill tub equipment. The liner bag was zip tied with the North Valley Crematory metal cremation I.D. disc for identification attached by the zip tie. The liner bag containing the cremated remains was then placed inside of the black vinyl temporary container (urn) and the empty space was filled with foam packing peanuts for protection. The certificate of cremation was enclosed inside the black temporary container. The vinyl temporary urn was then placed into the white cardboard outer container. An additional copy of the cremation certificate was taped with scotch tape to the outside of the cardboard container. The temporary urn enclosed by the white cardboard container was inserted into a tight fitting Tyvek type shipping envelope, wrapped with two strips of 2 inch vinyl tape around. The post office shipping car was attached on the outside of the Postal Service envelope, and completed for mailing by the U.S. Postal Service agents."

Receipts from USPS show the package was flagged for an "alert," and there's no record of the package after it left Grand Forks.

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The USPS sent the following statement:

"The Postal Service offers our deepest sympathy to the Mink family for the loss of their loved one.  We are keenly aware of their desire to locate the missing item as soon as possible.  We regret that to date the cremains have not been located, but are committed to our ongoing, vigilant search to find them."

Mink said he has little hope his mother will be found, or that he will be able to say a proper goodbye.

"For your parent to be able to pass away and never lay him to rest is a totally other situation," Mink said. "It should never have to be this way."

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