LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas police were stumped by a bizarre discovery at the home of a former city council member this week.
“I’ve had a few odd things happen in my life. This has got to be, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 10," said former city councilman Steve Miller.
He was doing some work around the house when he looked into an outdoor trash can, Miller recalled.
"I look in here, in this waste from my yard — it's just clippings and such — and I find an urn."
Miller speculated someone may have left the urn at his house, hoping he would dispose of the remains properly.
“Maybe people — of course I’ve lived in the same house for 42 years — they know that I used to be a public official and that I would probably know what to do,” Miller said. “I obviously don’t know what to do. It was an emergency. I needed to find out.”
While may have been a surprising find for Miller, Billy Vallie with Davis Funeral Homes says it happens "more often than we would want it to."
Vallie says just this year there have been about 25 sets of human remains returned to mortuaries in the Las Vegas valley.
"I try to educate families when they come in, that there needs to be a permanent placement for cremated remains, just like we do when a person passes away and is buried,” Vallie said.
Statistically, Nevada leads the country in cremations, with 81.6% of people opting for cremation.
Vallie says there are no laws in the state against dumping ashed human remains in the trash. And, he says, after cremation a human is simply ash, so there is no biohazard fear in dumping the remains.
“The way the law is, we tell families you can do whatever you want — scatter them, at that point in time — you can throw them in the trash," Vallie said. "You can always come out to the cemetery and purchase a space for them to be placed."
As for the remains of Mr. Charles Ray Stewart, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police took them to a mortuary, where attempts will be made to contact his family.