After Son's Ashes Discovered in Louisiana Trash Can, Cremains Re - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

After Son's Ashes Discovered in Louisiana Trash Can, Cremains Returned to Kent County Mother

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KENT COUNTY, Del. -- A woman from Kent County whose son died in 2003 was recently given a box containing some of his ashes after a man from southern Louisiana discovered the container in a trash can in the Bayou state several weeks ago.

Ellen Stubbs, 85, of the Frederica area, said she received a call telling her the box containing the ashes of her son, Ralph Kline, was discovered in a trash can near a thrift store in the area of Houma, Louisiana.

"That's a hard thing for a mother to accept," she said.

Kline was an army veteran who grew up in Delaware but lived in Louisiana following a deployment there. Stubbs said she has owned a similar box containing what she was told is half of her son's cremains. The other half was believed to be in possession of his fiance.

Larry Lilliman of Houma, a self-described junk scavenger, said he discovered the box around Mardi Gras while searching through a trash can.

After seeing Kline's name and years of birth and death inscribed on the top of the box, Lilliman said he was dedicated to finding a relative and embarked on a weeks-long search that involved diving through social media and local news coverage.

"I tried to put a notice in the local newspaper and a friend of mine called me up and he helped me find the mother," he said.

Lilliman said he was told an operator of the thrift store had purchased the box along with contents of a storage unit. From there, he heard the box was mistakenly tossed after it couldn't be determined what the container was used for.

But when he was finally able to reach Stubbs and return the cremains to her home, Lilliman said it was an emotional moment.

"When I spoke to Ralph's mother, hearing in her voice how happy she was, that was just overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes," he said.

Stubbs said she received the box just a couple a weeks ago and was especially grateful to Lilliman for helping bring her son back home.

As a widow who also lost her other son, Stubbs said Lilliman's dedication to finding her was admirable.

"It gave me hope for people because there's so much bad out there today and that someone's done so much good," she said. "It made me feel so good."

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