WATCH: Father’s Tearful Gratitude At Return Of Daughter’s Ashes

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WYOMING, Mich. (March 9, 2014) – A West Michigan father has been reunited with his daughter’s missing remains after watching FOX 17 News at Ten on Tuesday.

Paul Hoogterp says he watches the broadcast every night, but Tuesday’s newscast changed his life.  He says he “flipped out” when FOX 17 aired a story about an urn found on the side of a Grand Rapids road.

Hoogterp says the urn containing his daughter’s remains was stolen from his Wyoming home four weeks ago.

Grand Rapids Police Lt. Patrick Merrill confirmed the urn belongs to Hoogterp and personally returned it to him on Wednesday.

Hoogterp had reported the urn stolen to Wyoming Police and even hired a private investigator to aid in the search.

His daughter Aubrey died in 2012 at age 23 after battling addiction. “She fought a hard fight. She really fought, Aubrey did, and I just want her to rest in peace now,” Hoogterp said.

The theft angers Hoogterp, who called the thief a “heartless monster.”

Drew Mehney and Kyle Vulpetti, both 17, found the urn on the side of a road and brought the urn to Zagmaan’s Memorial Chapel. Staff then turned it into police.  There were no markings or serial number – no way of identifying who it could belong to.

“I custom-ordered it, and I put the ashes in myself,” Hoogterp said.

FOX 17 was there when Hoogterp called Vulpetti to thank him. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how much this means to us,” Hoogterp said. He said he planned to give the boys a finder’s fee.

“I really appreciate the good deed, and I appreciate the young man you turned out to be to do something right,”  the gracious father said.

In a loss that’s still unbearable, it brings him a small amount of closure.

Hoogterp is now dedicated to finding those responsible for the unthinkable act.  He’s offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction.

“Then I can be the voice for Aubrey. She deserves justice. She deserves to be left alone.”

Anyone with information should call the Wyoming Police Department at (616) 530-7300.

If the reward is not claimed, Hoogterp plans to donate the money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Father reunited with Daughter’s Remains

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  • Dawn Ridge

    Some one took my moms ashes and will not give them back! My fathers house was recently foreclosed on. The bank did this illegally because they failed to notify the co-signer of the loan. The loan was a home improvement loan with a balance of only $3400. My dad was not staying at his home due to losing his job in December. He was staying with family because he could not afford the utilities. On Saturday March 29th 2014 My daughter and my dads best friend went to his house to do some house work to surprise my dad. He was going to return home soon because the weather was getting warmer. They found that the house had been completely cleaned out. And all of the motorcycles and two cars we where storing there had been taken as well. I called the bank to try to find out who did the clean out so I could ask them if they at least held on to my moms urn for us. The manager told me it probably was thrown in the dumpster with the rest of the stuff they did not want! He gave me a number for the person in charge of hiring the clean up crew and they will not call me back. With the house and contents as well as all the titled vehicle they got over $100,000 worth of stuff. The bank gets the house and who ever cleaned it out was told to take what they wanted and throw away the rest. They took over $30,000 worth of tools and. You would think they could be nice enough to return the urn to us! I do not understand how any one can do this. And not feel bad about it. I'm so hurt about the thought of my mom being in a land fill some where. Or sitting in a strangers house. Or maybe they bumped the ashes to sell the brass urn. I do not know and it's breaking my heart! To top it off they want $1220 dollars to get mine and my daughters cars back. I do not know what to do!

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