Husband's Ashes Found in Stolen Car, Repeat Offender Arrested

RENO, NV - Burglars took more than Ingrid Neill's jewelry; they took something more precious--her husband's ashes.

Today those ashes are being returned and a suspected thief is behind bars.

Police arrested Meredith O'Flaherty after she was pulled over suspected of driving a stolen car.

Inside the car, police found some of Neill's stolen jewelry and, eventually, a black velvet bag containing the urn with her husband's ashes.

When I called Ingrid to tell her her husband's ashes had been recovered, she gasped "I have to sit down."

"Everything's right with the world," she said later. "I'm so happy and grateful."

In her 82 years Ingrid Neill has seen and survived a lot.

"I've had shocks in my life, lost people close and dear to me."

Born to a Jewish family in Germany, she barely escaped the Holocaust only to spend World War 2 in Japanese occupied Shanghai. Finally reaching the United States a few years later, she eventually met the love of her life.

She and Reno casino worker Blaine Neill were married 32 years.

He died 10 years ago. She now lives alone in a quiet neighborhood on Thoma Street in central Reno.

Earlier this month, life held one last shock for her, perhaps the cruelest of all.

Returning home, she discovered she'd been burglarized.

"I went into the bedroom and it was chaotic. Everything was open. Everything was dumped on the floor.

The thieves had taken all her jewelry.

She felt the violation all crime victims feel, but she was unharmed as was her dog. She counted her blessings as she and her daughter Carol counted the loss.

"I said that's OK It's material things. No big deal."

It was only an hour later that she notice a lampshade on her night stand was askew.

And I said 'Oh , I'm going to straighten it up and it's open, the nightstand and I reached."

She pauses remembering the shock of the discovery.

"I kept my husband's ashes in there."

The black velvet bag containing his urn, a rectangular bronze box was gone.

Meredith O'Flaherty was arrested on two counts of burglary one count of possession of a stolen vehicle, both felonies. In addition she's charged with two misdemeanor counts of possession of stolen property and one of obtaining money under false pretenses.

O'Flaherty has a criminal history dating back to 1995 with 7 prior felony convictions. She may now face prosecution as an habitual offender which could lead to a stiffer sentence.

A police spokesman says there are other outstanding suspects and the arrest may lead the solution of other residential burglaries.

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