It would be an insult to the bottom-feeders of the animal kingdom to compare them to burglars police are seeking in Humboldt County, Calif. Police say they're investigating the theft of an urn containing the ashes of Ryan Wagner, a 6-year-old boy who died from cancer in 2011, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ryan's parents say that after the urn and other items, including the "courage beads" the boy was given during his treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, were stolen from a safe during a December burglary, the $5,000 reward they offered became a ransom when they were told of a threat to dump out the ashes.
On the Bring Ryan Home Facebook page, mom Anita Wagner says they handed $5,000 in small bills to local lawyer Kathleen Bryson last Friday and she returned 45 minutes later with the ashes and other belongings. Bryson tells the Lost Coast Outpost that her client contacted her after learning that people he knew had the ashes and planned to dump them out. Bryson says she gave the family her $500 fee and doesn't believe her client had any share of the reward. "The burglars—I don't know how they sleep at night," she says. Ryan's dad, Joshua Wagner, says he suspects Bryson's client is the real thief and is disgusted that the person appears to have gotten away with it. He says the family now plans to scatter Ryan's ashes and "set [him] free." (These thieves mistook a man's ashes for cocaine.)