Stolen Cremated Remains Recovered in Marion County
It's an unusual crime that's received national attention. Three men and two teenagers from Marion County are facing charges in a series of home burglaries. They confessed to stealing electronics and jewelry and what they thought were drugs. But after snorting the powders, they realized they were actually cremation ashes and got rid of them.
Today the Marion County Sheriff's Office went to great depths to recover the ashes.
A heavy conscience about the stolen remains led a confidential informant to give detectives a tip that helped them solve a string of burglaries in Silver Springs Shores. But they didn't stop there. Instead calling on the dive team to help find the remains of Holli Tencza's father and dogs.
It took less than an hour for two divers to locate the boxes containing the ashes of Tencza's father and one of her Great Danes. Deputy Paul Youmans said, "Everything was by feel, like you said the silt was probably a foot or so deep and I was exiting and felt them on the bottom."
One of the suspects led detectives to the shore of Magic Lake. Giving the dive team a point of reference for their search. Lieutenant Dennis Joiner said, "With the other bag at the shoreline that was discovered we felt pretty confident they were there."
The velvet bag found on the bank that Tencza kept her dog's remains in and the two boxes of ashes recovered from the shallow lake were returned to her today. Upon seeing the ashes Tencza became emotional. She said, "I'm a little overwhelmed, very grateful and appreciative."
Tencza said she hasn't been without her father's ashes since he died in 93' or without her dog's ashes since they were killed in August. This was a moment she said she didn't believe was possible. Tencza said, "They're back and I can take what I have home with me and have some peace at that and just try to move on."
Much of the property stolen from the burglarized homes is still missing, including the ashes of Tencza's other Great Dane. Detectives believe they are in a nearby house and are attempting to make contact with the owner to get them back.
Detective Greg Spicher said being able to return the ashes to Tencza is a great feeling. He said, "You know solving crime is solving crime. Being able to return something like this to somebody that means so much to somebody...that's what makes the job."
Detectives are still working to recover the other stolen items and to determine what other thefts the suspects may have been involved in.
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