Police are investigating the theft of a Wonthaggi-born man’s remains from the Wonthaggi Cemetery.
Ashes stolen and casket smashed at cemetery
THE WIDOW of a man whose ashes were recently stolen from Wonthaggi Cemetery has made an emotional plea to the culprit to return her husband’s remains.
Aged in her 60s, the woman, who asked not to be named and for the deceased not to be identified, said the ordeal has left her “terribly traumatised”.
Highly emotional while speaking to the Sentinel-Times yesterday (Monday), she described the crime as nothing less than “despicable”.
“I don’t know who could be deranged enough to do this,” she said.
“How could anyone contemplate this, let alone go along and do it?
“If (the offender) has an ounce of conscience, they will do the right thing and hand the ashes back.
“I just want him back.”
She said the deceased, who passed away in 2011, was Wonthaggi born and bred but had lived elsewhere in Victoria for several decades.
Wonthaggi Police is still investigating the crime after authorities were alerted to a grave site that has been disturbed at the Cameron Street cemetery.
The grave was exhumed by authorities on Thursday, with police informed the ashes had been removed.
The widow said the deceased’s ashes were interred at the cemetery last February, and she has visited the site every fortnight since.
“I thought the right thing to do was to bring him back home,” she said.
“I always visit with fresh flowers.
“When I went there on Australia Day I found a dreadful mess.
“I thought (cemetery) workers had been there as there was clay and mud all over the bottom of the headstone.”
Believing maintenance had been undertaken in the vicinity of the grave, she said she contacted Bass Coast Shire Council, the authority managing the site on behalf of the Department of Human Services, only to be informed of the horrible truth a few days later.
“They told me police and the health department had been called in.
“Then they told me he was gone.”
The woman revealed that the grave robber(s) had not just removed her husband’s ashes – they had callously desecrated the site.
“When he was interred there last year I organised for a casket to be ordered.
“Whoever did this has smashed the casket open, taken the ashes (and container) out and then thrown bits of broken casket back into the grave.”
She said nothing else of value had been placed inside the small ashes casket.
Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the vicinity of the cemetery to contact police.
Wonthaggi Police Constable Gary Wakefield said the theft is believed to have happened sometime between January 23 and 26.
He said Forensic Police had been taken part in investigations.
Whilst investigations continue, the widow said she is left feeling “helpless”.
“It’s the not knowing that is tearing me apart.
“I’m so terribly traumatised.
“(The deceased) was a beautiful human being who worked hard all his life.
“It was his right to have a final resting place.
“That has been stripped away from him.”
Anyone with any information is urged to contact Wonthaggi Police on 5671 4100 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.