One of Priscilla Bailey’s favorite pastimes was going to her local thrift store and hunting for bargains. However, that innocent hobby took a dark turn, as what appeared to be the perfect trinket in fact contained an unknown substance. It would end up attracting a media storm, sending Priscilla on a journey to find its original owners.
Hunting For a Bargain
In her retired years, Plymouth, Massachusetts resident Priscilla Bailey kept herself busy with a wide array of hobbies — and few things riled her up quite as much as hunting for bargains. When it came to this pastime, she knew thrift stores were the place to be.
With technology and life pushing forward, one can easily count on these stores constantly receiving fresh shipments of gems from a bygone era. Rarely did Priscilla ever leave empty-handed. While browsing one day at Savers, Plymouth’s local thrift store, nothing seemed to be catching Priscilla’s eye. Yet just as she was about to head for the exit, a certain shine caught her eye.
Sparkling Blue Ornament
Priscilla’s favorite color is blue, and as such, she wouldn’t hesitate to buy any blue trinkets and ornaments that she came across during her rounds thrift shopping. That said, it’s no surprise that the item that caught her eye inside of Savers was also blue.
Being blue was only half of the item’s allure. In all of her years of bargain hunting, Priscilla had never come across anything like the ornament she saw amid the store’s Christmas decorations. The blue heart-shaped Christmas ornament was almost hypnotic to look at. Little did Priscilla know that this innocent item would soon attract a media storm — and even bring the police.
Not Another Christmas Decoration
Despite being lumped in with a bunch of Christmas decorations, the heart-shaped ornament was a stand-out piece when compared to the rest. Whereas many Christmas ornaments are made from plastic these days, this lovely trinket was actually made out of glass, and it was oddly heavy.
Despite the fact that it was being sold at a thrift store, Priscilla expected the piece to be on the expensive side. However, it turned out to only cost her a mere $2.00. It was just the steal that she had been looking for. While the item was sold for cheap, Priscilla would soon find out that it was actually priceless.
Getting a Closer Look
Once her debit card was swiped and that pretty blue heart-shaped ornament was in her possession, Priscilla had unwittingly signed on for a journey that she’d never forget. When she got home from the thrift store, Priscilla took out the ornament and began giving it a closer inspection.
Made completely of glass and metal, the ornament sported a series of intricate designs. It had angel wings on the top. While some would instantly associate such a design with Christmas, angel wings can also have a far darker connotation. While looking at the glass, the sun happened to flash through it. Something strange caught Priscilla’s eye.
A Building Suspicion
For a split second, Priscilla could have sworn that she’d seen something inside the ornament. However, when she peered through the glass a second time, it appeared completely hollow. Still, something didn’t feel completely right. While beautiful, something about the item made Priscilla feel a little uneasy.
That hollow appearance made little sense given the weight of the ornament, which was quite heavy. Regardless, she shrugged it off, hung the mysterious item over her kitchen sink, and completely forgot about its existence. However, when her daughter Kat came to visit, the beautiful strangeness of the ornament would again become the center of attention.
A Daughter’s Curiosity
Not long after buying the ornament, Priscilla met up with her daughter, Kat Bartlett. Much like her mother, Kat had her fair share of hobbies and passions, one of which happened to be an enjoyment of glass art. With that in mind, Priscilla didn’t hesitate to show off her fancy heart-shaped Christmas ornament.
Once again, the question of its heavy weight despite that hollow appearance came into mind. While her mother didn’t exactly spend a huge amount of time figuring out the composition of the odd piece, Kat was determined to figure out what was going on with it. After taking some time to study it, she came up with the perfect idea.
Cracking A Heart-Shaped Mystery
Being a keen enthusiast of glass art, Kat knew immediately that there was something unique and odd about the ornament. It didn’t appear to be an item that you’d see at your local retail outlet. The heart-shaped ornament looked like it could have actually been custom-made.
As a means of figuring out why it weighed so much for being hollow, Kat went into the kitchen and retrieved a flashlight. She handed it to her mother and instructed her to shine the light through the glass heart. What they ended up seeing inside that ornament sent shivers down both of their spines.
The Haunting Truth
Once the flashlight was shone on the ornament, Priscilla and Kat were definitely able to see something shifting around inside its shell. The light helped reveal to them that the heart was split into two sections. Despite that, they still had no idea what was actually in there.
After further analyzing the contents of the glass with the flashlight, Priscilla and Kat’s eyes widened and they both brought their hands to their mouths. For the two of them, Christmas ornaments had always been associated with all things festive. But on that day, the Christmas spirit took a very dark turn.
Getting Police On The Phone
Priscilla gently set down the Christmas ornament and took a seat in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Kat grabbed her phone. Her first instinct was to call 911, but they didn’t have a solution for her. She then phoned Savers. The Plymouth thrift store responded by saying that they could dispose of the contents properly, but this didn’t sit well with Kat.
When she realized that she was on her own, Kat contacted the Boston Globe. Her hopes were that the media would spread her discovery far and wide, and that someone would contact them with more information. The media would take her story and reveal to the world the contents resting inside the ornament.
A Powdery Substance
Priscilla recalled to the journalist from the Boston Globe: “Right now, it’s hanging up there when I do my dishes. I sometimes stare at it.” She then pointed to the two compartments of the ornament. “It’s small. The two spots in it are small, the size of a golf ball.” She brought it to the reporter for a second look.
It was immediately clear to reporters that it was no ordinary ornament that they were looking at, a suspicion that was confirmed when she told them about the powder inside. However, it wasn’t baby powder or flour at all. Far from it: the Christmas ornament was holding a powder that most wouldn’t want hanging over their kitchen sink.
A Christmas Of A Different Sort
As it turns out, the ornament wasn’t filled with powder, but ashes. The ornament was not intended to be a Christmas decoration at all. It was, in fact, an urn, something that belonged on a loving family’s mantle above the fireplace. It ate at Priscilla knowing that the remains of some mysterious, anonymous human being were hanging in her home above her kitchen sink.
The last thing she wanted to do was throw the ashes away. It would have been utterly disrespectful. Obviously, someone had loved this person enough to have had their remains placed inside a custom-made unique urn. That side of the situation alone was absolutely heartbreaking. However, there was yet another devastating aspect of this discovery.
Priscilla’s First Response
Most of us wonder where we’ll end up after we pass. Moreover, it’s safe to assume that literally none of us would imagine our resting place as being on a thrift store shelf surrounded by an array of Christmas ornaments. Priscilla was more than haunted by the reality of having purchased the remains of someone’s loved one at a retail store.
She was baffled as to how something like this could have happened, and she couldn’t imagine something she treasured so much ending up at a thrift store. Priscilla wondered if the family even knew that they had accidentally sold their loved one. She decided it was up to her to keep looking for answers.
Searching For An Origin Story
Looking at the lost urn hanging above her kitchen sink, Priscilla and Kat both decided that they wouldn’t leave this sad situation unresolved. Come Hell or high water, they would find the urn’s family. After a while, it was obvious to them that the story’s news coverage hadn’t caused the stir they were hoping for.
In an effort to reach more people, Kat took to social media and left a post about the “ornament”. Along with the whole story, she also posted a few pictures of the blue heart-shaped urn. The post didn’t fail to attract a few responses, and while many shared their concerns, one man stepped forward with a tip that would make things much easier.
A Helpful Tip
Before receiving any random messages that would have left Priscilla and her daughter baffled, they got a helpful tip from a thrift store employee. He stated that the chances of the urn’s owners living in her own town were quite high, as much of their stock came from people living in the area.
As Priscilla and Kat watched over someone’s loved one, they both kept their eyes on the Facebook post. For quite some time, it garnered no further responses. However, just when the pair were about to call it quits, they saw a new response — with some rather strange news. Mother and daughter were left scratching their heads.
A Strange Coincidence
Believe it or not, Priscilla wasn’t the first person to head to a thrift store and buy one of these heart-shaped ornaments, only to later discover ashes inside. A woman named Connie Whiteman Slatt claimed that she had found an almost-exact replica of the urn at a shop near her.
Priscilla and Kat couldn’t believe what they were hearing. What had the world come to, when loved ones were accidentally ending up in thrift stores? Either selling off ashes had somehow become socially acceptable, or these weren’t memorial urns at all. Things would only get more odd for the mom and daughter duo.
The Mystery Behind The Ashes Is Cracked
As one can imagine, the two weren’t feeling so good after hearing about the existence of this second urn. As the days flew by, things would remain quiet. However, they eventually got a third reply from yet another woman — and she also claimed to have seen an urn inside of an ornament.
This woman’s aunt was the owner of one such urn, and she hadn’t unintentionally purchased it from a thrift store or funeral home. What’s more, she also didn’t have any of her own deceased loved ones inside. Priscilla and Kat were very intrigued by what this lady was revealing. In a sense, her explanation brought them a massive sense of relief.
An Eruption Of Historic Proportions
The woman revealed to them that inside of her aunt’s urn weren’t human remains — but ashes that came from the catastrophic 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, all the way on the other side of the country in Washington state. Priscilla felt a bit relieved by the woman’s story, but still didn’t feel completely convinced that the urn wasn’t filled with the remains of someone’s loved one.
One has to question how an urn with ashes from a volcano in Washington would end up Massachusetts. Priscilla just couldn’t be sure. However, there was one way that they could find out and finally close this chapter of their lives. They finally had the chance to be 100% certain about what was in that blue thrift store trinket.
The Only Way To Be Sure
Priscilla and Kat could be sure about the contents of the blue object, but the process wouldn’t be easy. They would have to break open the ornament and remove the ashes in order for the test to be done. Understandably, for several reasons they didn’t feel right about doing this. Someone had chosen that case specifically to hold the ashes, whether they were human or volcanic.
Priscilla also didn’t want to disturb the ashes. Just in the event that anyone really did mistakenly sell their urn to a thrift store, Priscilla decided to keep it hanging in her kitchen and to wait for a call to claim it. While her time with the urn was anything but enjoyable, for Priscilla, there was one big takeaway from the odd situation.
Altered View Of Thrift Stores
While most people look at thrift stores as just places where you can buy a used couch or some old video cassettes, in fact they’re a lot more than just a building full of goods from a bygone era. These items could be from folks that have passed away, lost their homes, or abandoned their storage units.
Priscilla will likely never look at these beloved stores the same way ever again. Every trinket on every shelf has a story of a life that went by without it. Who knows what one can find attached to an item that they’ve bought?
Still Looking For Bargains
While the piece did have an impact and sent Priscilla and Kat on a wild quest for answers, the experience with the memorial urn (or holiday decoration) didn’t sway Priscilla from her favorite hobby of hunting for bargains. On any given day in Plymouth, Massachusetts, one could find Priscilla, still browsing along at the local shops.
As for the blue heart-shaped mystery that started everything, it still hangs over Priscilla’s kitchen sink to this very day. Still mildly concerned that there are human ashes inside, she has stated that it will remain there — until someone responds to the Facebook post, comes forward, and claims it.
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