Dumb Burglars Snort Stolen Cremains
Netlore Archive: As allegedly reported in a Florida newspaper, dumb criminals confuse woman's cremated remains for crack cocaine, and snort them.
Description: Urban legend
Circulating since: 1996
Status: Partly true
Email text contributed by Jane B., July 10, 2006:
A news article from a Florida Newspaper:
Analysis: One reason so many urban legends exist is that folks can't resist the temptation to try to make a good story better by embellishing the facts.
Nathan Radlich is a real person. In May 1993, his house in Boynton Beach, Florida was burgled, and the thieves really did make off with the cremains of Radlich's sister, Gertrude, leaving his TV, VCR, and watch untouched. Police did, in fact, speculate that the burglars mistook the ashes, which Radlich kept in a cardboard box in his fishing tackle box, for crack cocaine. The rest is fiction.
As reported at the time in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Radlich never actually found out what happened to Gertrude's cremains. There was no bullet-riddled corpse left on his doorstep, no handwritten apology for "snorting" his sister. "The remains were probably strewn on the street when they found out it wasn`t drugs," Radlich was quoted as saying which is way less exciting than the ginned-up version of events, but at least it has the virtue of being true.
The theme of inadvertently inhaling or ingesting human cremains links this tale to another urban legend called "The Accidental Cannibals," which was featured in Jan Harold Brunvand's 1993 collection, The Baby Train & Other Lusty Urban Legends. The premise is equally simple and straightforward: someone mistakes cremains for a food ingredient e.g., flour, cake mix, deydrated soup, spices, or cocoa powder and either eats them or mixes them into a dish that is eaten by someone else.
Brunvand quotes a real-life mortician who pooh-poohs the idea, objecting that cremains "are so similar to coarse sand or finely ground seashells that I believe no one could mistake them for soup or baking ingredients."
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Sources and further reading:
Woman's Ashes Take a Powder
Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), 4 June 1993
Last updated: 01/19/11