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Human Ashes Returned to Rightful Owner, Grosse Pointe Woods Police Say

Despite confusion about human ashes found in a residential Grosse Pointe Woods flower bed earlier this month, police say there was no mix up.

The human ashes discovered in the flower bed of a Grosse Pointe Woods home earlier this month have been returned to the person who spread them, police said.

Despite questions about the possible mix-up of ashes by a Georgia-based crematory, Metro Embalming and Crematory, Woods Detective Kevin Bonk said the numbers on crematory tags were accidentally transposed by crematory officials during the investigation not at the time of cremation.

Initially, police believed the ashes were of a Georgia man cremated in January 2010 but after further investigation they discovered the ashes belonged to a woman who used to live at the home in the 2100 block of Lancaster Street, Bonk said.

The woman and her brother lived in Georgia when she was cremated and the brother has since moved back to the Detroit metro area. The brother spread the ashes in the flower bed of the Lancaster Street home as a matter of carrying out the last wishes of his deceased sister, who lived at the home years ago, Bonk said.

The current resident had cleaned up the ashes and has since returned them to the brother, who lives in a suburb west of Detroit, Bonk said.

Spreading ashes is allowed in Michigan as long as it does not disturb the peace. In this situation, the brother did not seek permission of the homeowner and simply spread the ashes, Bonk said, noting it was an odd situation but a personal matter.

Originally the Woods resident who found the ashes believed it was rose fertilizer but realized it wasn't when he began spreading the ashes and found a crematory tag with the number 230.

Officers called the crematory in Georgia to track down the next of kin and received the widow of the man cremated in January 2010. The widow however told officers she had her husband's ashes and crematory tag with the number 320 in her possession.

Bonk said the crematory transposed the numbers officers provided to them and therefore gave the wrong information to investigators. The case has since been closed, he said.

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