MODESTO - Tom Killian of the Stanislaus County Coroner's office is used to a little detective work when it comes to finding next of kin. His most recent assignment involved more than just a little sleuthing, however.
It was his job to track down a relative of Rose Lyons, whose ashes were found a week before Christmas at a Modesto storage facility. Lyons who died in 1906 at the age of 70.
"This was a big gap, very unique to our office," said Killian.
He read the label on the urn, called Bay Area cremation companies and searched the Internet, eventually tracing the family to a granddaughter who died in the 1940s.
Killian needed more help and recruited the Modesto Bee newspaper.
"With the help of the media we got a lot of contacts all over the country, Minnesota and New Jersey," Killian said.
Genealogy hobbyists picked up the hunt and located a great-great-grandson of Lyons in Ceres. The coroner's office has since returned the ashes to the family.
It's still not known how the ashes got to that storage facility. That urn and two others were found in an archive locker.
One of the urns contains ashes of an animal, while the other contains the ashes of a man named William Rodriguez. Killian is now working on solving that mystery.