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Woman says husband stole mom's ashes

Aug. 3, 2009 at 1:05 PM

NORFOLK, Va., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A Florida woman says she is attempting to locate her estranged husband in Norfolk, Va., to reclaim the stolen ashes of her dead mother.

Barbara Peterson of Clearwater, Fla., said in addition to recovering the cremated remains of her mother, she wants her estranged husband Michael to face criminal charges for his alleged actions, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said Monday.

"I want my divorce, and I want a law that makes what he did criminal," said Peterson, who has asked Virginia state lawmakers to make the third-party theft of an individual's ashes a felony. "He is a portable-grave robber."

Peterson, 64, said she suspects her husband is staying with family members in Norfolk, Va., in the wake of his alleged theft of the ashes in 2003 following a marital spat.

Michael Peterson, 44, maintains while he was incarcerated in 2003 on domestic-violence-related charge, the ashes were thrown away by a storage unit operator. He said in a telephone interview with the Virginian-Pilot he has since been attempting to avoid further incarceration at the hands of his wife.

"I've been running and hiding from this lady because her main objective is to have me thrown in jail," said Michael Peterson, who insists he is living in Florida.

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