An infant's ashes that were stolen from a Hawaii home have been found and returned to the baby's mother, ending a heart wrenching search that began earlier this week.
"I'm speechless, I'm literally sick to my stomach speechless," the mother, Leimomi Kahele told KHON-TV after she got the remains back.
A bag containing the ashes of Kahel's five-day-old son Horace was discovered on a Hawaii beach Thursday, placed on a step leading down to the beach and next to a photo album also taken from the home.
"They obviously knew what they did was wrong," said Kahele, 25, according to the Associated Press. "They put our photo album and his ashes in such a beautiful place. It wasn't just some bushes on the side of the road."
Kahele's home was broken into Wednesday, and among the items stolen was an urn containing the ashes of her premature son, who died just five days after he was born in 2004. Cash, a DVD player and other belongings were taken as well. The urn remains missing, but the ashes themselves were found by a woman walking on the beach.
The woman called her neighbor and after an Internet search, the pair realized they had found the ashes that had been publicized on the local news the day before.
"I got chills all over my body," the neighbor, Tupu Wheeler said. "This mother has lost her baby all over again."
Meanwhile, Kahele and her family had been driving all over the North Shore of Oahu searching for signs of the baby's remains. She got a call from KHON, which first reported the theft, saying the ashes had been found.
"When she handed me that bag, it was a weight lifted off me," Kahele said. "I felt warm inside again."
The entire ordeal forced her to relive being an 18-year-old first-time mom, going into labor 15 weeks early and making the decision to take her newborn off life support.
"It's heartbreaking when you lose a child," Kahele said. "When I lost him again it was 100 times more devastating."
Now that she has his remains back, she's come up with a new way to store them.
"I used to sleep with his urn, and it was hard and ceramic," Kahele said. She now plans to buy a soft, cuddly teddy bear and sew the bag of ashes inside: "I want to be able to feel like I'm holding him again."