The casket found on North Seneca last week was dumped there after being stolen, Wichita police said Thursday.
In February, a family decided to exhume a relative who died in the early 1990s so they could have the body cremated, Lt. James Espinoza said. Because the cemetery where the grave was does not accept used caskets, the family made arrangements for the casket to be hauled away.
“The hauling company transported the casket to their facility to be discarded,” Espinoza said. “However, thieves stole the item prior to them getting rid of it.”
The hauling company chose not to report the theft to police, he said, and the incident only surfaced after the coffin was found dumped on the side of the road in the 3800 block of North Seneca on March 19.
“We believe they were probably looking to scrap the casket,” Espinoza said of the thieves. “They did strip it of its handles. They learned pretty quickly no one was going to take it.
“They didn’t know how else to get rid of it so they threw it on the side of the road.”
A serial number on the casket helped investigators piece together the coffin’s odyssey, he said.
Residents who recognized the casket after images were released to the public came forward to explain at least part of what happened with the coffin.
The hauling company does not have security cameras at the storage site where the coffin was taken, Espinoza said, and dusting the coffin for prints did not yield any clues.