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. Tampa man turns himself in for Sunday hit and run fatality

    Public Safety

    A Tampa man was arrested early Sunday after he struck and killed a pedestrian, left the scene, and then called 911 to turn himself in.

  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119
  3. Hernando County Sheriff's Office: Deputies shoot suicidal woman who brandished shotgun

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies shot a woman they believed to be suicidal after she pointed a shotgun at them Sunday, according to a police report.

  4. Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change

    National

    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning.

    President Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
  5. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.