MANATEE -- The nightmare is over for Lori Reek and her family.
For nearly two weeks she has been reliving the pain of her son Nikolas Reek’s death after a safe containing a box with his ashes was stolen from her home.
The ashes were returned Monday to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
“I cried,” Lori Reek said when she learned the news. “I don’t know any details other than the person saw a newscast and decided to turn it in. I am so thankful to this person.”
The ashes were returned by an anonymous person who called in, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow. Deputies later arranged for the ashes to be dropped off at the sheriff’s office.
“This person needs to be applauded because they recognized this could have been the ashes in question,” he said. “And by no stretch of the imagination is this person a part of it.”
Bristow said the sheriff’s office is continuing its investigation to find out who broke into the Reek residence.
The burglar also made off with an iPod, jewelry and Reek’s 11-year-old daughter’s tooth fairy money, among other items on July Fourth weekend.
Lori Reek and her daughter were visiting her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Todd Reek, who is stationed at Camp Blanding, near Starke.
She said she felt something wasn’t right as soon as she returned home and immediately called law enforcement when she noticed there had been a burglary.
“He was so relieved,” Lori Reek said about her husband’s reaction to the news. “He’s just grateful that Nik is home.”
Nikolas grandfather Jerry Reek said he wasn’t expecting the good news.
“I honestly didn’t think it would be returned,” he said about his grandsons’ ashes. “I thought whoever did it would open the safe and throw it away. They must have some conscience to return him.”
Nikolas Reek was killed about two-and-a-half years ago in a car accident with an impaired driver.
Before his death Nikolas Reek was starting out as a chef and worked at The Ritz-Carlton.
He was also attending State College of Florida, and was two weeks away from taking a trip to New York to propose to his girlfriend.
Lori Reek said he is thankful for the support the community has shown her family following the incident.
In the aftermath of the ashes being taken, neighbors stopped by her home to lend support and Toale Brothers Funeral Home and Crematory donated an urn.
“It floored me when they told me the Toale Brothers donated the urn. It’s gorgeous,” said Lori Reek, who placed it on the TV stand along with other family photos. “I’m glad he is home.”
Anyone with more information on the robbery is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 747-3011, or remain anonymous, and possibly become eligible for a cash reward, by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8677).