Thieves break into widower's car, steal his late wife's ashes

SEATTLE -- A widower is heartbroken after thieves broke into his car and stole the remains of his late wife.

Mark Matson said the heartless criminals not only stole his wife's ashes, they stole her dying wish to be taken into the Cascades.

Matson loaded his backpack and stashed it in his parked SUV Monday night in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Inside the bag was camping and survival gear, as well as his wife's ashes.

He planned to hike into the Cascades Tuesday morning to spread her remains, but when he woke up he found a pile of broken glass.

"And I knew immediately, as soon as I saw that, that the backpack was going to be gone that had Michelle's ashes in it," he said.

Mark and Michelle were marred for 18 years. She fought cancer for the last three.

"She was adventurous, she went out into nature a lot," Matson said.

Her bucket list included a bird watching trip to Trinidad, so Matson took her there in February. It turned out to be her last trip.

"And I brought her ashes back on the plane and I've had them, you know, getting ready for this trip and getting life together," Matson said.

Michelle wanted her ashes spread in the Cascade Mountains along the Pacific Coast Trail.

"We've been up there before together, so she knows how beautiful it is," Matson said. "Now it's time, but the ashes are somewhere else. And it sucks."

After filing a police report, Matson immediately went out on his own, driving around the neighborhood and beyond in hopes of finding his wife's urn in a back alley or dumpster.

The urn is a green and white biodegradable container that Matson said feels like a cardboard box. It was tucked inside a brand new backpack.

At this point, Matson just hopes the thieves will realize what they've done and return the ashes.

"If they have any kind of heart at all they'll want to give them back, put them somewhere where I can find them," he said.