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Stolen U-Haul trailer carrying loved one's remains found, police say

Brittany Costello
September 12, 2017 06:18 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- From the outside, it looks like it could be a treasure trove of property. That might have been what lured thieves to an SUV and trailer parked at the Residence Inn in southeast Albuquerque near Yale and Gibson.

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However, the U-Haul had something far more valuable than old keepsakes and furniture. The victims were hauling the body of a loved one for a burial in New Mexico.

"Unfortunately and grotesquely, a casket containing the remains of his father-in-law was inside that trailer," Albuquerque Police Department Public Information Officer Tanner Tixier said. "Clearly, his wife was extremely emotional as the body of her father had just been stolen."

That man's body, for a moment, was in the hands of criminals.

"We immediately started allocating resources to try and find this vehicle, not only because it's a heart-wrenching story, but also you're going to have the safety and the bio-safety of having an unaccounted-for dead body," Tixier said.

The body and trailer were abandoned just a few miles down the road at Gibson and Girard, in a golf course parking lot across the street from Camille Ruggiero's home.

"We didn't know," she said. "We thought maybe they were going to do a bust in the neighborhood. That's usually what they get together for."

Instead of looking for drugs, officers combed the SUV and trailer for fingerprints or any evidence belonging to the person who took it.

"It's just a little bit weird, but the crime isn't weird," Ruggiero said.

Three people were arrested in connection with a pursuit with Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies. Police say they believe that there is a connection between those cases. It's unclear if they were the ones who stole the trailer with the body inside.

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Brittany Costello

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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