MT. WASHINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Police in Mt. Washington are trying to solve "the case of the forgotten remains" after a box of human ashes was thrown out with garbage at a storage facility.

The ashes have been unclaimed for six months and are still at the police department.

Elmer Newkirk saw it sitting in a pile of trash.

"There was a little box that caught my eye," he said. "It looked like a little jewelry box."

Once he took a closer look, he realized it was certainly not a jewelry box.

"When I turned it over and read the name on it, it kind of gave me a little bit of a chill," Elmer said. "Because I realized I had somebody's remains in my hands."

Underneath the box, a label read "Joyce Tabler." Inside the box were ashes in a sealed bag.

"I can't imagine anybody that would just sit it out knowingly," Elmer said. "I think it was an accident. Maybe they didn't know it was in there or they forgot it."

So he called Mt. Washington Police.

"Funeral homes, we checked with them. We've checked with the crematories. We ran an ad in our newspaper," Lt. Dan Kelty said.

Detectives are stumped.

"It may be a lady that died in March 2002, but we can't confirm that," Kelty said.

Police followed several leads but haven't had any luck. They still can't track down the woman's family.

"I thought when I called the local funeral homes, they'd say, 'Oh yeah, here it is.' But that was six months ago, and here we are today," Lt. Kelty said. "We still don't have next of kin of who this belongs to."

Now police are asking for the public's help.

"If it was one of my family members, I just can't imagine it laying in a pile of rubbish like that," Elmer said.

Both he and investigators hope someone remembers Joyce so her remains can return to the right home.

Anyone who knew Joyce Tabler or knows her family should call Mt. Washington Police at (502) 538-8143. Investigators said Tabler may have lived in Louisville. 

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