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Police and a family are puzzled why a mausoleum was broken into.
By Stephanie Garry, Times Staff Writer
Published February 21, 2008
Grave robbing for riches is an old crime, but St. Petersburg police say they don't know the motive for the theft of two funeral urns from the Royal Palm Cemetery.
Police think at least one person broke into a mausoleum at the cemetery on Monday night, smashed the glass compartments and took the urns containing the ashes of Igor Ballin and Sandra Mulroney. Many other compartments in the mausoleum were untouched.
Outside, the building had been vandalized, with bronze plaques and metal flower holders ripped from the walls.
Gary Hock, who manages the cemetery at 101 55th St. S, told police the mausoleum was secured at the end of the day on Monday. St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt said he didn't know the value of the urns.
But Norman Mulroney, 65, said he couldn't have paid more than a couple of hundred dollars for the box he bought at an antique store to hold his wife's ashes.
A cemetery official called him Wednesday to tell him the remains of his wife, who died in 2003 at age 60, were stolen.
Mulroney called his daughter to tell her the news on Wednesday, and she broke down crying. She told her father she was afraid her mother's ashes had been dumped with the garbage somewhere.
Mulroney was planning on being interred beside his wife, but said he's reconsidering keeping the compartment now. He said when he has visited the site with a special key, the mausoleum has been locked. Security had never been a concern until he heard about this incident.
"You always think, 'well, it's easy to break in,' but then you think 'why would anyone want to break in?'" he said. "I guess you justify it because you think nobody wants to break into a cemetery."
Ballin's family could not be reached for comment.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Stephanie Garry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 892-2374.
[Last modified February 20, 2008, 23:57:45]