A distraught woman in Washington is rummaging through Dumpsters looking for a purse stolen from her car that contained two items filled the ashes of an infant son who died nearly 14 years ago.
"It was his birthday and he could have been thrown in a garbage. I just feel I lost him again," Kelly Potis of Tacoma, Wash., told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV.
Potis lost her son Frankie to leukemia shortly after he turned 1 year old. Since then, she has kept his ashes sealed in a baby block and also kept his baby blanket, pacifier and photos.
On March 16, Frankie's birthday, she was going to share Frankie's ashes with her two other children. For her son Dylan, 25, who just recently returned from serving in Afghanistan, Potis had the ashes added to a statue of an angel wearing a backwards baseball cap. For her daughter Gracie, 11, Potis added the ashes to a silver cross pendant.
Potis was on her way to deliver her presents when she stopped at a convenience store for a bottle of water. When she came out she discovered her car had been broken into and the purse containing the gifts had been stolen.
"When I came out, my purse was gone," Potis said. "I couldn't believe it. I don't think I could breathe. I couldn't believe that I was part of this terrible mistake."
Potis had her driver’s license, checkbook and credit cards stolen as well, but says she only cares about the gifts with the ashes, which were wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with a ribbon.
She has been searching through dumpsters trying to locate the purse. According to police, thieves commonly take the cash and credit cards and throw the rest in the garbage.
"Usually when someone breaks into a car and takes items, they take what they want and dispose of things that are identifiable like a purse would be," Tacoma Police Officer Loretta Cool told ABC News. “They will take the wallet, they will take the money, the credit cards. If you search around, sometimes you will get lucky.”
Frankie’s striking blue eyes and broad smile made him a poster child for leukemia awareness in the Seattle area. The annual “Big Climb” of Seattle’s 76-story Columbia Tower, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, was dedicated to Frankie in 2008.
"I won't give up hope," Potis said. "He didn't give up ever and I'll just keep looking."