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Lost in the mail: Son, funeral home officials, USPS search for mother’s cremated remains

SEYMOUR, Indiana -- The ashes of an Indiana man's mother are nowhere to be found after she died in a North Dakota nursing home. Officials with the U.S. Postal Service are trying to find the package, but Donald Mink said he has little hope he'll be able to lay his mother to rest.

"It's just been almost four months now and I don't know what's going on with my mother's remains and I can't let it rest," Donald Mink said. "She just passed away so quickly that we wasn't able to get out there to see her one last time."

When Mink's mother died, her belongings were shipped to him, but not everything arrived.

"I found out that I'd never be able to lay her to rest," Mink said.

In February, Mary Mink's cremated remains were sent from a post office in Grand Forks, North Dakota to her son's home in Seymour, Indiana. Tracking information shows she never made it. The status of the package is listed as "dead mail."

Donald Mink called the crematory responsible for mailing Mary Mink.

"'I am sorry to inform you your mom's remains have been lost, and the post office is supposed to be getting a hold of you,'" Donald Mink said.

A letter from the crematory details the packaging and shipment of Mary Mink -- sent Priority Mail Express.

"(Shipping remains) is becoming more and more prevalent. It's becoming more common as families scatter and they are displaced," Danny Percell, with the Kentucky Board of Embalmers said.

The post office's Priority Express Mail is the only legal way to ship human remains. And it's reliable, experts say.

"This is the first time (I've heard of where remains have been lost,) and I've been a funeral home owner for 34 years," Percell said.

USPS officials said: "We regret that, to date, the remains have not been located, but we're committed to our search," and expressed their deepest sympathy to the Mink family.

"For your parent to be able to pass away and never be able to lay them to rest is a totally nother situation. Total nother situation. It should never have to be this way," Mink said.