NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A cemetery seems like for a fitting place for an urn, but one urn recently found in a Newport News cemetery was not where it was supposed to be.
“It is kind of weird,” said Walter Melvin, the general manager of Peninsula Memorial Park, where the urn was found.
There are plenty of unexplained happenings in this world, and the mysterious, misplaced urn found beneath a bush at Peninsula Memorial Park is one of them.
“It was another one of our mysteries — which we have quite a few in the cemetery,” Melvin said.
A couple months ago, Melvin was walking around the cemetery grounds when something caught his eye.
“I didn’t see it at first,” Melvin added. “I was quite surprised and pulled the bush apart a little bit.”
Underneath the azalea blooms was a box.
“It was in great shape,” Melvin said. “Of course it was old.”
The urn was 21 years old. It’s all that’s left of Virginia Beach resident Louise Hatgimisios.
Hatgimisios died in 1998 after battling emphysema. Her ashes were cared for by her three children for five years after her death.
“She loved her family and she loved her grandkids very much,” her daughter-in-law Virginia Van Camp said.
If only Louise knew about the mystery that started five years after her death.
It was the day after Christmas in 2003. The urn was being given from one son to another, but it was accidentally left on a table next to Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk. The next morning, both the table and the urn were gone.
“The table makes sense, but the urn is kind of weird,” grandson Zachary Hatgimisios said.
Zachary is too young to remember his grandmother, but he remembers his mother and father talking about the missing urn.
“That was one of our big mysteries of our family,” Zachary said. “Where was our grandmother’s ashes?”
The family thought Louise’s urn would never been seen again.
“We’ve always just kind of wondered where it was,” Zachary added.
About 16 years after the ashes disappeared, Van Camp got a very strange call.
“I was speechless,” Van Camp said. “It was the last phone call I was expecting. I never expected to be reunited with that urn again.”
That call was from Melvin, the cemetery’s general manager. Somehow, Louise ended up 27 miles away from Virginia Beach, at Peninsula Memorial Park. Melvin was able to track down Louise’s heirs, Van Camp and Zachary.
“It was very weird that it showed up back in our lives,” Zachary said.
Melvin said the urn didn’t look as if it had been under the bush for very long.
The mystery of Louise Hatgimisios doesn’t end just because she has been found: Where has been she been? Who had the ashes? How did they end up in Newport News? The family’s questions may never be answered, but Louise is now where she belongs.
“I’m just glad we found her and she is back with her family,” Van Camp added.
The Hatgimisios family would love to know where the urn has been all these years. They say they aren’t looking for justice; they are simply thankful the urn was returned and want to know where it was for the last 16 years.