Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Grandmother's remains lay in Clearwater storage unit

CLEARWATER — From the outside, Unit B8 of U-Stor Self Storage didn't seem at all suspicious.

A family had stored stuff like old TVs and banana boxes in the 10-by-10-foot room for more than 25 years. Only recently had they fallen behind on rent.

It wasn't until U-Stor managers told the family that they would auction off the items inside the unit that B8's bizarre secret became clear.

You can't do that, a woman told the managers. Grandmother's in there.

That led to the discovery Thursday afternoon of the skeletal remains of a woman who had died in 1995. She was found in a painted blue coffin inside the unit, which is not air-conditioned.

Police said the dead woman's granddaughter told officers that she didn't know about the remains until last year, when her mother revealed their location as she lay on her deathbed.

Police recovered death certificates for both women. On Friday, Clearwater announced that the mother's body was properly disposed of through a funeral home in Alabama. They also announced that there was nothing else suspicious found in two other storage units that the family rented at the business.

Police didn't initially release the names of the three women.

The woman in the coffin appeared to have been "properly processed" for burial, medical examiners told police. So far, there is no answer to why she wasn't buried. Police don't think she died under suspicious circumstances.

But improper disposal of a body is a crime. No one had been charged as of Thursday evening.

Kevin McKeon, a district manager for the storage facility, said the family had been delinquent on monthly payments for Unit B8 since Dec. 1. McKeon said he spoke with the granddaughter over the phone this week about the late bills, which is when she told him about the remains.

McKeon has frequently heard prank calls from people who claim suspicious items have been left in storage units, so he questioned the veracity of what she said.

But just in case, he locked B8 with extra padlocks and changed the tenant's gate code.

Because McKeon was busy on Tuesday and Wednesday selling repossessed items at storage auctions, which have been popularized through TV series like Storage Wars, he said he delayed checking the unit until Thursday.

McKeon said he opened the unit Thursday afternoon, saw the casket and immediately called police. Patrol officers arrived and pulled the casket out of the unit. Then they opened the lid and saw the remains inside.

Detectives and crime scene investigators swarmed to the business. Crime scene tape was unspooled. Soon media trucks arrived.

Amid all the activity, the whistles of nearby school crossing guards could be heard.

Police said the remains will be taken to A Life Tribute, which provides indigent burials from chapels in Largo and Gulfport.

"There are More Important Things in Life," the chapels' website states, "than High-Priced Funerals."

Drew Harwell can be reached at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

When managers opened a storage unit after a strange claim over the phone, they saw a blue casket and called police.

Drew Harwell | Times

When managers opened a storage unit after a strange claim over the phone, they saw a blue casket and called police.

Grandmother's remains lay in Clearwater storage unit 01/26/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 3:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]
  2. Former Lightning forward Brian Boyle diagnosed with cancer, expects to keep playing

    Lightning Strikes

    New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor said can largely be treated with medication.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]
  3. Editorial: Genshaft right to oust USF St. Petersburg leader

    Editorials

    In times of crisis, leaders cannot abandon ship and be unclear about their whereabouts. That is essentially what the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg did with Hurricane Irma headed this way. Sophia Wisniewska's actions fell short of what should be expected from an experienced administrator …

    Sophia Wisniewska’s actions fell short of what should be expected from an experienced administrator responsible for the safety of her students and the security of her campus, and the move by USF president Judy Genshaft, above, to fire her was appropriate.
  4. Duke Energy Florida president answers questions about utility's response to Irma

    Hurricanes

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than a week since Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions of Floridians, Duke Energy announced it will finish its restoration efforts Tuesday.

    Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris greets St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday at a news conference where both spoke about Hurricane Irma recovery. The event was held at a Florida Department of Transportation lot next to Maximo Park in St. Petersburg, where the city is collecting Irma yard debris which will be mulched and sold to a local tomato farmer. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Leaves, mountains, ice cream and cheese: What's not to like in Burlington, Vt.?

    Travel

    If I loved Burlington, Vt., during a visit with my daughter when the high was 37 degrees, I feel completely comfortable recommending the city as a great destination for fall, when it's considered one of the top leaf-watching spots in the world.

    Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is the sixth-oldest college established in New England.