Police Confuse Human Ashes For Heroin

By Victoria Kim 05/01/18

A car accident caused by an exhausted driver led to a massive mix-up for Maine police.

woman holding an urn

Kevin Raymond Curtis was happy to see his late father again, after police in Kennebec County, Maine returned baggies of his cremated remains after mistaking it for heroin.

Curtis, from Augusta, had been storing the ashes of his late father, Robert Clinton Curtis Sr., in the glove compartment of his car, hoping to keep it safe from the hands of his four children.

He had lent his car to a friend, Jess Legendre, the day the ashes were taken in as evidence. Legendre, who Curtis said was tired after a 20-hour shift, ended up hitting a utility pole and crashing the car in a ditch while on his way to the supermarket.

Police discovered Legendre unconscious at the wheel, which led them to believe that he was under the influence of heroin, which was later disproved. They administered two doses of Narcan, one on scene and one in the hospital where he was treated.

Curtis later said that Legendre had lost consciousness from the impact of the airbag hitting his face.

Kennebec County Sheriff’s deputies discovered the two small bags of human ashes in the glove compartment of the car, and admitted the 48 grams of mysterious powder as evidence, thinking it was heroin.

Legendre, whose license was suspended at the time unbeknownst to Curtis, was charged with operating after habitual offender revocation and falsifying police evidence.

Forty-eight hours later, police returned the ashes to Curtis. Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason confirmed that the suspected heroin was actually “human remains; a rather unusual manner in which to keep the remains of a loved one, for sure.”

Curtis told a local newspaper that he had been storing the ashes in his car while he waited for his father’s urn to arrive. His sister had passed them on to him “just recently,” though she, too, is still carrying additional ashes of their father in her truck, whilst in the process of moving.

Curtis is just happy to have his father back.

“The kids were really mad when they found out that (the police) took Grandpa, but I tried to make a joke of it,” he said. “I said, ‘This is the first time he’s ever been in lockup and we’ll just get him out.'”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr