Mysterious ashes found in moving van returned to family after weeks of searching

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - There are many things left behind in moving vans, but U-Haul employees in Kansas City were shocked to find cremated remains.

Kathleen Blum died in 2014, but no one imagined that after she passed away she would go on an adventure that took her across the state, if not farther.

Nicole Shaw, the general manager of U-Haul's 31st and Main location, said she finds lots of things left in moving vans.

"From trash, to personal notes, diaries, I've found diaries before," Shaw told WDAF.

But Shaw never imagined her employees would find Kathleen Blum about two weeks ago.

"The employees called me and they were kind of freaking out internally," Shaw said. "They said, 'Nichole, there's ashes in this truck. They don't belong to them,'" Shaw said. "'We don't know who they go to,' and I said, 'Well, don't get rid of them.'"

Blum was wedged behind a small space in the back of the cab between the seat and the wall. Shaw said she has no clue how long Blum was behind the seat.

All the people she called didn't have a connection to Kathleen and said the van at least went to St. Louis with her in it -- if not between states.

"To me that was still a person, and that was still a soul and there's still people connected to that soul. I just wanted her to not be alone," Shaw said.

She got in touch with WDAF, and the station was able to track her cremains to Elite Funeral Chapel in Kansas City, Missouri, where they not only remembered Kathleen, but her husband as well.

"He loved her," office manager Emma Lawrence said. "You could just tell, because he said when I took the cremains he said - 'I'm going to put them right here on the dresser."'

The funeral home had four numbers for Blum. One was her husband who already passed, one was her son which was disconnected, along with another family member.

Kathleen's husband's cousin, Virgil Blum, answered a call to the fourth number. He lives in Oak Grove and was preparing for an overseas trip, and couldn't come and get Kathleen's cremains in time - so WDAF brought her home.

"Kathleen was my cousin's wife, and we were very close together my cousin. We grew up together," Virgil said.

Virgil said Kathleen died in 2014 of lung cancer. He said she was a quiet woman he'd known almost all of their lives and got along with everyone. Her husband, Everett, died a year later. Virgil said his heart was broken when Kathleen died.

"She had cancer, and the last few years he stayed at home with her, and nursed her, and took care of her, the same as I did with my wife," Virgil said.

Virgil said he has an idea of how Kathleen may have been lost, but is simply thankful she was found.

"I appreciate it very much," Virgil said. "I thank her very much also for the work that she did to get these returned."

However, Kathleen and Everett remain apart.

"Everett is in one of these boxes also," Virgil said. "His remains was with her on the dresser of the bedroom dresser."

Virgil thinks Kathleen's ashes may have been lost by the couple's son during a move. He's not sure if he will be able to get a hold of him to reunite their ashes, but said if not - Kathleen will stay with him for the rest of his life.

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