Social media helps return a stolen urn

This is the day a St. Paul man has been waiting for.  An urn containing the ashes of his father was returned to him after it was stolen in a burglary.

Wednesday morning, St. Paul resident Casie Lowen was on her way to catch a bus for work when she spotted a small urn sitting on a ledge outside her apartment on the 400 block of Lafond Ave.

“I was shocked, like ok well good morning,” Lowen said.  “This is very important to somebody.”

Lowen quickly posted a message about finding the urn to the Frogtown neighborhood page. From there the dominoes started to fall. A  Star Tribune article followed. Then someone at Southview Acres Health Care recognized the name Lee Fredrick Hallgren because he had spent his final days there in hospice care.

Within 24 hours of the discovery of the name on the urn, David Sandbeck had arraigned to meet Lowen to get the cherished token of his late father back.      

Sandbeck says eight months ago a box containing a bible and three small urns was stolen from a condo he owns in St. Paul. There were a total of three that contained remains of Sandbeck’s father because he had three kids.        

“It was angering to me to loose what little of him I had left. I kept after the police and the county attorney to see if they could find anything. But after about a month I accepted that I have to remember him that's he's my father no matter what,” Sandbeck said.

Friday afternoon, just as Sandbeck was thrilled to thank Lowen and be reunited with one urn, the caretaker for her building heard what was going on and brought out a second set of Lee Hallgren's ashes he had found.

“I'm just shocked. Not only do I get some of him back. I get more of him back.  It means a lot to me.”

The caretaker for Lowen’s building says a previous resident was caught with several stolen items and suspects he may be to blame, but Sandbeck says he's not blaming anyone.

“My understanding is this gentleman has an addiction as well. So I understand that through my my father and I hope he is getting the help he needs.”

Sandbeck says he’s just thankful to have piece of his dad back.

Sandbeck says he originally had three urns because his father has two other estranged children. He hopes if he's able to meet them someday. He would have some ashes of their father to share with them.