BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – A woman who won the contents of two abandoned storage units in Alabama ended up finding the cremated remains of more than a dozen people among the items inside.

“That was one of the farthest things from my mind when I thought about doing an auction for a storage unit. I didn’t ever think that,” said the woman, who identified herself only as Rebekah.

For $30, Rebekah had won the contents of two units at a Mobile storage facility. Afterward, she loaded up the furniture and boxes inside, and brought them home to Baldwin County.

“We realized it was a funeral director’s unit. That was no big deal for me,” Rebekah said. But it became a big deal once she and her husband opened a container.

“He was like, ‘What’s this?’ And then I looked, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s cremated remains,'” Rebekah told Nexstar’s WKRG.

There cremated remains of 13 people were found among the items in the storage units, according to Rebekah. The cremations dated as far back as 1992, with the most current from 2019.

The moment Rebekah discovered the cremains, she was already planning to reunite them with relatives. For the last few weeks, she has been doing just that.

“It’s actually been quite easy, surprisingly,” Rebekah said. “I’ve been lucky every time I’ve gotten the correct family members, and they have been OK with it.”

Five families have gotten phone calls from Rebekah. Cassandra Jones, whose husband Dan died in 2015, was one of them.

“After the funeral was over with, they told me they would take care of everything, and to my understanding, that is what I thought they had done,” said Jones, who is still trying to process what really happened.

“It’s been devastating,” said Jones. “It has truly been devastating. It just seems like I’m reliving this all over again.”

More families could get that same phone call, according to Rebekah, who plans to keep trying to reunite the families with the remains of their loved ones. Of those she’s already spoken with, only one declined the ashes. She’s still hoping to contact the families of:

  • Steve L. Frazier, whose DOD (date of death) was listed as 02/24/92
  • Carl Anthony Williams, whose DOD was listed as 06/13/14, and who was cremated on 07/03/14
  • Kendal Jay Brown, cremated 1/18/15
  • Irene Foster, cremated 07/02/93
  • Larry Cecil Ross, DOD listed as 11/08/03
  • Willie Martin Jr.
  • Jimmie Lee Craig, cremated 07/09/97
  • Melissa Stallworth, cremated 01/05/94
  • Jimmie Herrin, DOD listed as 04/13/19

“I immediately wanted to find their family first,” Rebekah told WKRG. “I didn’t want to get in trouble for having them, but I also wanted to make sure the family had the option first.”