12/13/2013 11:06 am ET Updated Dec 13, 2013

Melvin Hayes, 80, Has Car With Wife's Ashes In It Stolen

An elderly California man who went to a car wash had his car stolen. Even worse, his recently deceased wife's ashes were in the vehicle.

Melvin Hayes, 80, was on his way to see a priest to have his wife's ashes blessed when the urn containing the remains was stolen along with Hayes' car.

His wife died just three weeks prior to the incident on Thursday.

News 10 reports that Hayes was at the Sacramento car wash when a woman approached and hugged him before striking up a conversation.

Hayes told police that she asked him if he had change for a soda.

"And I said I don't have any single bills, but I got a pocket full of change, and I gave her enough money to buy the soda pop," Hayes said.

Hayes now believes that this was all an act to grift him. According to USA Today, the woman may have stolen Hayes' claim ticket for his car.

"We thought that they were together as [boyfriend and] girlfriend or something," Premier Car Wash general manager Victor Vosburgh said. "She ended up with his ticket and went out front, and my inspector asked for the ticket, got a ticket that was the car, the license number, and he released the keys to her."

Hayes and his wife had been married for almost 50 years. He told CBS Sacramento that he was upset losing her in his life, and even more upset to lose her ashes, now unable to give her the proper burial he wanted.

“Someone could dump my wife’s ashes in the Sacramento River, or dumpster, or down the sewer,” he said. “I don’t want that to happen to my wife’s ashes.”

Hayes hopes authorities will be able to track the vehicle. Witnesses described the woman to police as black, in her 40s, short and heavy-set.

"Nothing else matters," he said. "I just want to get my wife's ashes back."


Dumb Criminals: Mugshot Gallery
Dumb Criminals: Mugshot Gallery