“I couldn’t fathom anybody could do that,” said Melvin Hayes.
He thought he’d lost the urn forever when a thief stole his car with the ashes inside.
Hayes talked to CBS13 about the mistake that landed the suspect behind bars and reunited him with his wife.
“It’s a fantastic feeling; I feel great,” said Hayes.
Clutching the urn that holds his wife’s ashes, Hayes said: “Annamarie, yeah, I met her in Germany.”
Hayes thought he’d never see the urn again.
“But I was very concerned that my wife — I wouldn’t be able to give my wife a proper burial,” he said.
On Thursday, Melvin went to an Elk Grove car wash to have his car cleaned, the day he planned to bury his wife. As he waited for his car, a woman came up to him and told Hayes she worked at the car wash.
Hayes bought her a soda and chatted about the book he was reading. When he went to check on his car, he discovered the woman he’d talked to wasn’t really a worker.
Hayes says the woman told car wash workers she was his girlfriend, got into his car and drove off.
Then at 2 a.m. Saturday, Hayes’ phone rang. It was the Port of Stockton police saying they had arrested a woman, Danielle Dorsey, and a man driving Hayes’ car. His wife’s ashes were still in the trunk.
“…pretty happy guy. Police say they have two people in custody,” said Hayes.
Police say they’d stopped Dorsey for a traffic violation — a mistake that got her caught. Hayes says he knows exactly how his wife would’ve reacted.
“She would’ve been royally ticked off. My wife is a very strong-willed, strong-minded person,” he said.
Hayes and his wife would’ve celebrated their 49th anniversary next month. She passed away in November.
He says he has yet to see the suspect’s mug shot to confirm it’s the same woman who befriended him at the car wash.