Bartow, FL – The widow of a Lakeland police officer said that her late husband’s ashes were stolen on Wednesday afternoon, when an intruder shattered a glass door to her bedroom, and burglarized her home.
Michele Newsome, the wife of late Lakewood Police Department (LPD) Officer Curtis “Buddy” Newsome, said that she returned home at approximately 1 p.m., and noticed the door’s shattered glass scattered on the ground, WFLA reported.
She realized that someone had rifled through her belongings, and was devastated to discover that the ashes of her husband, who passed away from cancer in 2015, were also missing.
Newsome said she kept the ashes in a small urn, which was held by a velvet box next to her bed.
“When you have lived with your late husband’s ashes, who I truly dearly loved, beside my bed since his passing and I go and open this box and I find this urn is gone and he is gone, they have stolen something that cannot be replaced… and I want my husband back,” she told WFLA.
Police said they believed Newsome was one of several homeowners in the area who was victimized by the unidentified suspect.
Investigators released photographs captured by a surveillance camera, which showed a man standing by a white van outside of Newsome’s residence on the day the burglary occurred.
“At the end of the day we got a full court press on to find and identify these folks, but the power of the community is much more powerful than we are,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told WFLA.
Officer Newsome served the Lakeland Police Department (LPD) for 28 years, prior to retiring over 10 years ago, according to The Ledger.
His wife also worked for the LPD for 24 years.
The couple was married for nearly two decades.
Following his retirement, Officer Newsome helped to found the motorcycle group, “Faith Riders,” at his local church.
“He was a great man and a great police officer and a great husband and a great Christian,” Sheriff Judd told The Ledger. “They took something much more personal than ransacking a home.”
He said he doesn’t believe the thief was aware that the urn contained Officer Newsome’s ashes.
“They’re carrying around a retired police officer who stood in the way of good and evil and we want him back,” Sheriff Judd said.