Anthony Butler says he knew he'd get a ticket when a cop pulled him over March 11 for not having a front license plate on his vehicle. What he didn't expect was to lose most of his infant daughter's cremated remains. "Almost all her ashes are gone," Butler tells the Chicago Tribune. "I have nothing else to remember her." Butler's story: He explains to Fox 32 that during the traffic stop, the Will County sheriff's deputy who detained him asked for consent to search the vehicle, and Butler said yes. The officer found a vial containing the ashes of Butler's infant daughter, Mariah—who'd died less than two weeks after she was born in 2014 of a congenital heart defect—hanging from his Chevy Blazer's rearview mirror. Butler usually wears the mini-urn around his neck, but he'd placed it in the car earlier that evening to keep it from getting soiled while he did messy car repairs. Here the story gets murky.
Will County Deputy Chief Thomas Budde says the officer asked Butler if he could field-test a tiny amount of the contents for drugs, and that Butler consented. Butler tells the Tribune he doesn't recall being asked for permission to do so, though he mentions to Fox 32 that the cop "asked me if it was okay to test a small amount." Either way, the deputy carried out the test, and Butler says when he got back to his car, the vial's cap was missing and his daughter's ashes were spread all over the front console. "I had to scrape up what was left," he tells the Tribune. Budde says though the officer "was careful not to spill anything," he was "caught off-guard" because he didn't expect to come across someone's ashes kept in that way. "Losing my daughter once was enough to kill most people," Butler tells Fox 32. "Losing my daughter twice—uncalled for." (Burglars demanded a ransom for a 6-year-old's ashes.)