Police said Thursday they are investigating the theft of human remains from a Westminster mausoleum.
The body of an 85-year-old woman, whose identity was not released at her family’s request, was taken from Westminster Memorial Park Cemetery Mortuary and Florist, 14801 Beach Blvd., late Monday or early Tuesday, Police Lt. Bob Burnett said.
Cemetery employees discovered the casket open and empty Wednesday, he said.
“What’s puzzling about it is that she was 5 feet up and there were other vaults below her,” Burnett said. “We don’t quite know what the significance with this particular woman is.”
Police said the cemetery fence--a mixture of chain link, wrought iron and brick--had been cut and a hammer-like tool used to remove the casket from the mausoleum. The vault was opened from the front, the casket pulled out and set down, and the remains taken out.
Officials said they do not know how many people may have been involved in the theft of the body, which would have weighed about 50 pounds. The woman, who died weighing about 100 pounds, had been interred at the cemetery since 1991.
Mike Ross, general manager of the cemetery, said: “We are astounded and shocked that something like this would happen. We’ve never had an incident remotely like this.”
Bloodhounds from the Orange County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team led investigators to a nearby street but then lost the trail.