Corvallis widower grieving wife's death after her ashes were stolen from car

The remains were in a one-foot black box with "Patricia Holman" written on the side. (SBG)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — A Corvallis widower is still grieving his wife's death after her ashes and urn were stolen from his car last week.

Matthew Archer's wife Patricia died suddenly in her sleep last week. Archer and his kids were still mourning her loss last Friday, and they left her ashes in their car overnight.

Someone broke into Archer's Jeep and stole several items, including his wife's ashes. Now, he's hoping he can track them down before Patricia's memorial Tuesday afternoon.

"[I made promises] to her that if she had passed, she wanted her ashes spread and I can't do that for her... I don't have the words for it," Archer said.

Corvallis Police believe it's a crime of opportunity and the thieves didn't realize what they stole.

The remains were in a one-foot black box with "Patricia Holman" written on the side.

Now the community is helping out, searching together.

"What I'm going to do is kind of zigzag through here," said Linn-Benton Community College student John Maine. "All I can say is...I can't sleep at night unless I do everything in my power, which may be just doing this and not finding anything."

He's searching high and low, passing out flyers and talking to neighbors to find stolen property.

"I can imagine the kind of situation, and you steal a baseball, a pair of pants, and that box," he said, describing three items taken from the Archer family's jeep.

"All kinds of things they could've grabbed," said Matthew Archer. "Here was just the easiest spot I guess. A little black box, about a foot tall, six inches across, four inches deep. Has her name on it; label on top."

For Archer and his 6- and 10-year-old sons, that box means "a lot; like, everything," said 10-year-old Elijah. "She was loved by, you know, everybody that she came in contact with."

"She was a service member who did support the Iraqi mission for the Oregon Guard, did two tours while she was a Marine," said Matthew. "She's now a Marine missing in action."

Matthew said on Friday night the remains were in his car so his sons didn't have to see it. "We decided to do a slumber party in the living room, and I happened to fall asleep with the boys. I came out in the morning with my cup of coffee, walked up to the Jeep. She was resting over here in this corner."

He went to check in on Patricia "and talk to her in the morning, you know, 'come on baby, help give me the strength to make it through today.'"

But she was gone. "Just utter disbelief...on anything that happened.”

But the community continues searching.

"Corvallis Happenings, Albany Happenings, the American Legion Post 10, and me," said Maine. "I focus on helping vets because I'm a vet. All I can say is they must've thought this was something valuable."

Maine said he's been looking for the remains for the family since last weekend.

" I want my mom back," said 6-year-old Vallen.

"I know nobody is going to give it straight to me because there's going to be a lot of guilt there," said Maine.

The family says, whether you leave here near the window or somewhere out in the open, they just want their loved one back to lay her to rest properly.

The family hopes to bury Patricia’s remains Tuesday, August 8, at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.

They changed the service from a funeral to memorial service, unless the remains are returned to the family Monday night.

If you have information. contact Corvallis Police (case # 2017C04751) or John Maine at (541) 730-5108.

There's also a GoFundMe page set up to help the Archer family.

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