Linda Mumma reporting


MODESTO (CBS13) — A repossessed car in Oregon lead a car sales company to an unusual find: the cremains of a man and woman with ties to Modesto.

The Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office is now asking for your help in finding the couple’s family. The urn belongs to a couple who once lived on Jasper Avenue in Modesto.

“The Sheriff’s Office does receive cremains locally,” said Detective Frank Leyva. “Not usually out-of-state. This is my first one from out-of-state.”

Detective Leyva of the Stanislaus County Coroner’s office said the urn ended up in Milwaukie, Oregon a few weeks ago when CarMax repossessed a 2014 Toyota Scion belonging to a man they’re unable to find.

“They weren’t able to get a hold of him. They actually tried to contact him themselves,” Leyva said.

Leyva said how the cremains ended up in Modesto is rather remarkable.

“When the Loss Prevention Team brought it under their care, they did an inventory check of the vehicle and they found a really nice urn which had two sets of cremains,” he added.

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Attached to the urn is a burial permit indicating it was supposed to be placed at a cemetery in Santa Clara.

“For some reason, they never made it there and got into this person’s hands, whose car was repossessed, “said Leyva.

CarMax contacted Evins Funeral Home on 5th Street in Downtown Modesto. An employee told CBS13, the business handled both cremations about a year or so apart.

“Robert Lee Jimenez passed away in January of 2015,” said Leyva.  “We also had Camela Margaret Jimenez who passed away in August of 2014.”

The employee told CBS13, the paperwork for Camela Jimenez had Robert listed as her husband. She said she told CarMax to contact the Coroner’s Office in Stanislaus County. On Friday, detectives said they got a surprise in the mail.

“At about one o’clock the coroner’s office received a Fed-Ex package at the front desk and it was noted that there were cremains shipped from Milwaukie, Oregon,” said Leyva.

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The cremains arrived in an engraved, marble urn, he said, is worth about $600.

“We were able to come up with a family tree. It generated a lot of phone numbers. Some are good, some are bad and you just have to try each one to try to find the family,” he added.

So far, Leyva said he’s been unable to locate the registered owner of the Scion. He said it didn’t appear he was related to the couple.

“The registered owner I won’t disclose, but he didn’t have the same last name as our decedents,” said Leyva.

He also hasn’t been successful in reaching a woman in Oregon, whom he believes may be the daughter of the couple.

“I tried to contact her, still haven’t gotten a response yet,” he added.

He’s now asking for the community’s help in locating a family member.

“It’s all about bringing closure so hopefully we can find family and take the cremains back to their care,” he said.

CarMax told CBS13 that the urn was “a surprising and rare discovery” in Clackamas County, Oregon.

Spokesperson Jennifer Bartusiak said in a statement, “at CarMax we value integrity and doing the right thing above all else and we’re happy to help.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office at 209-567-4480.

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