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Three different cremains of loved ones found abandoned in Racine County

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RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Cremation has steadily grown in popularity, but with it, comes the responsibility of what to do with your loved ones after they’re gone.

The Racine County Medical Examiner's Office is grappling with an unusual issue Thursday, Feb. 20.

Cremated remains were found abandoned on three separate occasions.

“These boxes here were found in the storage room of the Georgetown apartment complex. And the other box here was found at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Caledonia,” said Michael Payne, the Racine County medical examiner.

Payne showed CBS 58 not one, not two, but three boxes of cremains recently abandoned.

Payne says in his eight years as medical examiner, it’s never happened before.

“And that’s the sad thing. It’s somebody’s loved one, somebody’s memories,” said Payne. “Possibly their father or their mother. And just to discard them, that’s really not a proper thing to do.”

“If somebody does find cremains, they can bring it to us,” said Brian Langendorf.

Langendorf is the funeral director at Draeger Langendorf Funeral Home and Crematory.

He says more than 50% of people that pass away choose cremation.

“Either you can have them placed in a cemetery, you can keep them, or like I said, people do scatter,” said Langendorf.

He says people usually claim their loved ones cremains, but sometimes families have a hard time choosing what to do with their dearly departed.

“You hope that somebody wasn’t just left, but it happens…. I think people hold cremains near and dear to them as they would if somebody was being buried in the cemetery, maybe even more so because you actually have a physical connection to these cremains,” said Langendorf.

“There’s a certain amount of dignity that comes with death, and memories of the person,” said Payne. “And just to have them discarded in there, that’s not the right way to deal with the cremains.”

Even though Mr. Payne was able to discover who these people were, they weren’t able to find someone to take custody of the cremains.

They will now go to their final resting place at a crypt reserved for cases like this at a local Racine cemetery.

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