Thieves steal baby's ashes

Mother holds onto hope they will be returned.

A local mother who lost her daughter eight years ago is, once again, mourning. That's because over the weekend, burglars broke into her home and stole the ashes of her baby girl.

Ultrasounds are the only pictures Paula Lopez has of her daughter, Maria.

"She would have been 8 years old, but she couldn't make it," said Lopez of her daughter.

Pregnant with identical twin girls, at 26 weeks Maria died in her mother's womb. The other twin, Monique, had to be delivered early, spending her first days in the NICU.

17 News spoke with the Lopez family four years later when they were named the Ambassador Family for the March of Dimes in 2009.

"Only God knows why she left me one," said Paula in 2009. "And, I have an angel."

"That was very hard now that we see Monique running around," said Juan Lopez in 2009. "I say imagine if there were two of them running around out there."

But, Paula always kept Maria close. Among her jewelry and treasured items, she kept the most precious belonging of all, the ashes of the daughter she lost.

That was until Sunday. While the Lopez's were at church, burglars broke in through the garage and took countless valuables, including the priceless ashes.

"It was horrible," said Paula. "But, when I noticed that the ashes weren't there, that's where I felt more painful because the other things are material. I mean, they can get replaced, but not, not the ashes."

Paula says the ashes are in a small, square pink urn with her daughter's name, Marie Guadalupe, and the delivery date, 7-26-2004, engraved on a plaque.

"And, it was inside an extra bag, like a black, little bag. It was in there, so probably they thought it was money in there," said Paula.

After speaking with Paula, a Sheriff's spokesman told 17 News deputies had just made arrests on another residential burglary in the Rosedale area near Paula's home and they had recovered a pink box. Paula was there within minutes, but was quickly disappointed to learn it was not hers.

"At this point, we have not been able to determine if these suspects we have in custody are related to that burglary that occurred on Sunday," said Ray Pruitt, Sheriff's Department.

Whomever stole the ashes holds a piece of Paula's heart. A baby she loves and wanted so much is lost, and now that pain is fresh and felt all over again.

"That's the way I feel," said Paula crying. "My husband is the same way. He's like ,that's the only thing we want if they can please give it to us."

The Kern County Sheriff's Office will look for more stolen property from the suspects arrested Tuesday to see if they locate the urn. If you have any information, call them at 861-3110 or the Secret Witness Hotline at 322-4040.

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