Last week, he was on his way to having his wife's ashes blessed when his car was stolen, with the urn of cremains inside.
On Saturday, California Highway Patrol called Melvin Hayes, 80, with good news -- the car, and the urn -- had been found in Stockton.
“Today is one of the best days of my life. Thursday was probably the worst day,” Hayes told Fox 40 Sacramento.
The urn was in the backseat when the car was stolen Thursday from a Sacramento carwash. Police said an attendant mistakenly handed the keys to a woman, who drove off.
News 10 reported that a woman approached and hugged Hayes at the car wash shortly before the car was stolen. The woman struck up a conversation, asking Hayes for change for a soda.
Hayes now believes that this was all an act to grift him. 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 told 10 News. "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."
That woman is now in custody.
“I hope she pays for her transgression, her sins. I hope she pays,” Hayes said.
Hayes and his wife were married for 49 years when she died three weeks ago. Hayes said he'll keep the ashes in a safe spot in his home.