A mystery in North Philadelphia has been solved after the owner of a woman's cremated remains that were found in an empty lot came forward.
A woman found the cremation box of Linda Upshur in a lot on the 2600 block of Oakdale Street in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city Sunday morning. Upshur died on July 11, 2007 at the age of 64 and was cremated on July 24, 2007. The box lists the Ivy Hill Cemetery and Crematory on 1201 Easton Road in Philadelphia.
NBC10 first reached out to the Ivy Hill Cemetery. A representative from the cemetery told NBC10 they released Upshur's remains to a Philadelphia funeral home. NBC10 contacted the home but never received a response.
After checking the name, NBC10 found a 1976 article from the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper about Upshur stating she lived in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. According to the article, Upshur was a commercial credit analyst at Continental Bank in Center City as well as a musician with ties to the NAACP Youth Organization and the YWCA.
An NBC10 viewer also found a newspaper clipping of Upshur from the Pittsburgh Courier in 1962 reporting she had chosen to work in the U.S. Air Force and was also a volunteer worker with the Colorado Springs' School for the Deaf and Blind.
NBC10 then contacted Emma Chappell, a friend and former co-worker of Upshur at Continental who was also involved in the NAACP.
"She was kind of like I," Chappell said. "We were very active in the civil rights movement. I remember a very attractive, fun-loving person who had a wonderful personality. She was a beautiful young lady."
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After searching once again through the neighborhood Monday night, Linda Cooper, who claimed to be a close friend of Upshur and the owner of her ashes, came forward and reached out to us. Cooper, who referred to Upshur as her "street mother," said at some point Upshur fell on hard times and began battling a drug addiction. Cooper claimed she and a group of young women became Upshur's only family until she died in 2007.
"She was a wonderful person," Cooper said. "She was good to us. All of us."
Cooper told NBC10 she held Upshur's ashes in her apartment, which is located about a block and a half away from the empty lot where they were found Monday.
"I had her ashes for like three or four years," Cooper said. "And my husband passed away. And when I moved out I left a lot of things behind. And I guess that's how you guys found her ashes."
Cooper told NBC10 she never intended any disrespect. The box of ashes is currently being held by Philadelphia Police.
"I loved her," Cooper said. "I loved her so much. She was a wonderful woman."