BEL ALTON, Md. - At the Bel Alton Thrift Store in Charles County, this business gets most of its goods from abandoned or repossessed storage units. In March, Martha Reingruber was at the store with a friend who noticed a gold box on one of the shelves.
The box had apparently been there for several months and the shop owner told them they could have it. But once they opened it up and realized what was inside, they were stunned to find cremated remains.
“We had no idea,” said Reingruber. “It’s just a plain cube with no writing. We thought it was a decoration or maybe a treasure box. We were trying to open it with our fingers and he was like, ‘I’m going to get it open.’ He decided to get a screwdriver to pry it open and was definitely taken aback.”
Reingruber said she knows people can fall on hard times and lose their belongings, but felt sad that someone's remains would end up in a thrift store.
While looking at the box with her son, they noticed a metal tag that reads “Chesapeake Creamatory” along with an ID number. The business, which is located in Beltsville, Maryland, was able to provide Reingruber with the following information – Michael T. Boone, a 61-year-old man who died in July 2014. He was cremated the following month in Washington D.C.
So who was Michael Boone, where did he live and who did he leave behind?
“I searched for hours on the internet looking at obituaries, using his name in different ways,” she said. “Then I reached out on Facebook, had friends share it and still haven't had any luck.”
Reingruber recently lost her own husband and is hoping someone with the answers to those questions sees this story.
“I recently became a widow in February, so I know I would want … someone to do the right thing,” she said. “I would really like to find his family so he can rest in peace.”
The only other clue is that this thrift shop typically gets its goods from storage units in Charles County, Prince George's County and in Northern Virginia.