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Friday, March 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ashes of man’s wife among items stolen from home

The ashes of Stephen Crowder’s wife and other items were stolen from his home in the Spokane Valley. (Dan Pelle)
The ashes of Stephen Crowder’s wife and other items were stolen from his home in the Spokane Valley. (Dan Pelle)

Stephen Crowder, who lost his wife of 20 years to ovarian cancer in 2008, was greeted by the unthinkable when he returned to the home he’s renovating in Spokane Valley on Tuesday.

A box containing Nancy Crowder’s ashes was among the items stolen by burglars during a break-in earlier this week. Stephen Crowder said the theft of her remains, among other items valued in the thousands of dollars, is the hardest to comprehend.

“It’s almost like she died all over again,” Crowder said. “Because she was gone unexpectedly, and now she’s gone unexpectedly.”

Crowder said he met Nancy in the 1980s when the pair worked in Tacoma. They moved east shortly after marrying in 1988 to be closer to her family in Idaho. The couple quickly became active in the Coeur d’Alene Muzzle Loaders, he said, a local group of antique rifle enthusiasts.

“We got to know a lot of different people, from the southern border of Idaho all the way up to the Canadian border,” Crowder said.

Nancy’s cancer was diagnosed in March 2008, but by that time it was already late-stage, Stephen Crowder said. She died just a few months later.

“She was a fantastic woman and a good mother,” Crowder said. “I miss her every day.”

Now engaged to be married again, Crowder arrived at the home in the 4400 block of North Mayhew Road that he plans to share with his wife-to-be to find the back door open. A man who is keeping an eye on the house for the couple reported hearing nothing, but when Spokane County sheriff’s deputies searched the home with Crowder, several items were missing, including antique jewelry and a television. The thieves ransacked most of the rooms, Crowder said, based on the disarray throughout the house.

In the bedroom closet, on a top shelf, a collectible bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey sat untouched, Crowder said. But the box containing Nancy’s remains was gone.

“That’s when I almost lost it,” Crowder said.

Despite the shock, Crowder said he’s holding no grudges against the thieves. He’d just like Nancy’s ashes returned, he said. Getting angry won’t solve the situation, Crowder said, and he doesn’t want the burglars to waste away in prison, either.

“There’s no winners in this,” he said.

Crowder said the break-in hasn’t shaken his belief Nancy is still with him.

“She wasn’t in that box,” Crowder said. “She’s looking out for me and her daughter from somewhere.”

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