Man Loses Baby Daughter’s Ashes After Cop Mistakes Them For Drugs

Published March 19, 2018
Updated October 10, 2018

"Just the worst feeling in the world came over me, like, this isn't happening."

Anthony Butler tragically lost his daughter in 2014. Mariah was just 11 days old when she died from a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Ever since her passing, Butler has worn his daughter’s cremated ashes in a pendant urn vial around his neck. But following a horrible mishap with a sheriff’s deputy on March 11, 2018, Butler has no longer been able to.

Butler, 25, was driving in Will County, Ill. when he was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy for not having a front plate on his car, reported the Chicago Tribune. It was a pretty mundane event. “I knew I’d get a ticket,” Butler said.

But then the deputy asked if he could search Butler’s car, which Butler agreed to.

When the deputy found the vial containing a white powdery substance, he became suspicious. “It was very similar in appearance to narcotics,” said Thomas Budde, the deputy chief in charge of enforcement and patrol division for the sheriff (not the deputy present during the incident).

The deputy then handcuffed Butler and put him in the back of a patrol car.

“The driver of the vehicle informed him they were the ashes of a deceased child,” Budde said. So the officer only took a small amount to test, making sure not to dump out the entire contents of the vial.

The deputy tested the substance and when the field test came back negative, the officer returned the vial to the car and Butler was free to go.

However, Butler says the deputy did not properly secure the vial after the test. He claimed that the inner cap was missing and that the outer cap wasn’t secured.

“When I picked up the remains, the bottom half just fell to the bottom of the console,” Butler told local FOX 32 news, adding, “Just the worst feeling in the world came over me, like, this isn’t happening.”

The ashes reportedly scattered everywhere. “Almost all her ashes are gone,” Butler told reporters, saying he had to scrape up whatever remains he could.

The deputy chief told local FOX 32 that while they cannot release it, body camera video shows the deputy apologizing to Butler for the mistake.

Budde spoke on behalf of the officer, saying that there was no malicious intent on his part. “I think the deputy was just caught off-guard. He’d never seen human remains packaged that way,” he said.

Nevertheless, Butler is of course devastated. “Losing my daughter once was enough to kill most people. Losing my daughter twice — uncalled for.”

Next, read about Ian Brady, the infamous serial killer who wanted to have his ashes scattered on his old hunting grounds. Then, read about the woman who took her dead daughter’s corpse on a two-day road trip.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.