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Dade City woman's relative's ashes lost in the mail

News Channel 8
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 06:31 PM

The cremated remains of a Dade City woman's aunt are lost in the mail somewhere between Florida and Wisconsin. 

  Sharon Barron says her Aunt Velda Hager's remains were shipped by the Hodges Family Funeral Home in Dade City seven weeks ago and are unaccounted for.

  "My father's upset and mad, my cousin's upset, I'm upset!" Barron said.

  Compounding the problem, Barron says when she finally got some answers from the funeral home, she discovered an employee shipped her Aunt Velda's remains via parcel post.

  "Parcel post for human remains?  If you order something online it's sent priority with a tracking number.  Here you have human remains and you send it parcel post?  I mean that's like junk mail," Barron said.

  Hodges manager Keith William confirmed the mistake.  He said the funeral home usually sends remains registered or by express, but for some reason that wasn't done in this case.

  Velda Hager died in 1999.  Her cremains were buried in the Floral Memory Gardens cemetery in Dade City.

  This spring, Barron said Hager's family decided it was time to send her aunt's remains back home to Wisconsin.

  She paid Hodges $500 to disinter the remains and send them to Highland Memorial Park in West Berlin, Wis. 

  The remains were mailed from the Dade City post office May 3. 

  Barron said days of waiting turned into weeks.  When she discovered the funeral home's mistake, it refunded her money.

  "It's not about the money; we really need to find my aunt's remains so that everyone can have closure," she said

  She contacted 8 On Your Side.

  "We have placed a priority on this search to locate Ms. Hager's remains as soon as possible," U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Enola Rice said.

  She said human remains are shipped via express mail or registered mail and delivered in one or two days. 

  "Ms. Hager's remains were sent Parcel Post and the package was not identified as containing remains," Rice wrote in an email. 

  According to Rice, the funeral home contacted the postal service May 14. 

  The package was sent with a delivery confirmation and has a tracking number.

  "The last scan shows the package containing her remains was received in Forest Park, Ill.," Rice wrote in a follow-up email.

  She said postal service officials there and in the Mail Recovery Center are working on finding Velda Hagen's remains.

  "We are extremely disappointed that Ms. Hager's remains have not arrived in Wisconsin.  We are attempting to locate the package containing her remains so that we ca deliver Ms. Hager to her family," Rice added.

  Rice remains hopeful Hager's remains will be located. 

  Barron fears the worst.

  "Is it just sitting in a warehouse somewhere in the postal service and you know because it's parcel post are they assuming it's just junk, and you know if it's not claimed do they throw it out?  I mean I don't know," Barron lamented.

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