Planning for a military burial was underway Wednesday after a widow came forward to say three urns left outside a Southern California church contained the cremated remains of her in-laws and her husband, a man police said was a US Army Vietnam War veteran.
Staff members at Nativity Church in El Monte found the urns on Tuesday, and detectives have since learned the ashes are those of veteran Brian Earl Muldrow, and his parents, Erna and Rodney, police said.
It all began when Laurie Muldrow, widow of Brian Muldrow, put the ashes of her husband and his parents inside a storage space in Glendora.
But Laurie Muldrow lost track of those ashes three years ago when she couldn’t pay the storage fees anymore.
"I felt so bad because there was no closure," she said. "It was awful."
Laurie Muldrow said her husband got hooked on prescription painkillers following cancer surgery. He turned to heroin and died of an overdose on Thanksgiving Day in 2008, she said.
She and her two teenage children lost their home to foreclosure and ended up homeless. She turned to drugs but is now in a recovery program.
After she stopped paying for storage, the contents of the unit were auctioned off in a blind auction.
A woman named Lydia Rivera then purchased the storage container and found urns inside, police said.
Rivera told police she wanted to return them to their next of kin but didn't know what to do, so she dropped them off at her local church, and church officials told El Monte police.
Laurie Muldrow saw the urns on the news and called police.
"I saw it on the news this morning ... and now I have everything back," she said.
Detectives are now working with Laurie Muldrow and the Veterans of Foreign Wars - El Monte Post 10218 to provide Brian Muldrow with a proper military burial, El Monte police said.
The remains of Brian Muldrow's parents will be given to their other son Michael, who lives in Hesperia.