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Originally published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 8:37 PM

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Paperwork load led woman to leave mother’s ashes at park

A woman who left her mother’s cremated remains in a park near Kent went back to the area on Wednesday to look for the remains of her stepfather.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A woman’s cremated remains were left in a park near Kent because her daughter was unsure about how to get the ashes, and those of her veteran stepfather, into the Tahoma National Cemetery, the King County Sheriff’s Office says.

Sgt. Cindi West, a spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said a plain wooden box containing the remains of Beatrice Elaine Park was found July 22 by a parks employee near the Soos Creek Trail at Southeast 266th Street and 148th Avenue Southeast.

Detectives sought the owner of the box thinking that it might have been taken in a burglary, said West. She said boxes and urns are often stolen by thieves who think there may be valuables inside.

A plaque inside the wooden box identified the remains as those of Park, who died at age 82 in 2004.

Calls to the Olympic Crematory Association in Centralia, where the remains were prepared, and the American Burial and Cremation Services funeral home yielded information that Park’s remains had been given to her husband, West said.

But police then learned that Hugh Park had died in 2006.

After hearing about the discovery in the news on Tuesday evening, Beatrice Park’s daughter called the Sheriff’s Office, West said.

West said the daughter told investigators that her mother and stepfather, who had served in the military, had hoped to be laid to rest at the Tahoma National Cemetery.

However, the daughter had mislaid, or had been overwhelmed by, the paperwork required, and she decided instead to leave the remains in a nearby park.

“I think she thought it was the next best thing,” said West.

Because the stepfather’s remains had not turned up, the woman and her son went back to the park on Wednesday to look for them, West said.

West said she did not know on Wednesday whether the woman found the remains. She said the woman planned to reclaim her mother’s ashes from the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.

West declined to name Park’s daughter, saying she was elderly herself, was distressed and embarrassed, and did not want to talk to the media.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at cclarridge@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8983

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