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William "Billy" Cantrell Stole Human Ashes Thinking They Were Cocaine: Police

William Cantrell

First Posted: 07/21/13 EDT Updated: 07/22/13 EDT

If cocaine is a hell of a drug, human ashes are one hell of a mistake.

William "Billy" Cantrell, 28, was arrested this week for allegedly stealing a box of human ashes from a neighbor in Tennessee. Family members believe Cantrell thought the ashes were cocaine.

"William thought it was drugs, he thought he'd done found him a box of cocaine is what he thought," Cantrell's grandmother, Wanda Allen, told News Channel 5.

Cantrell was held on an aggravated burglary charge.

According to a police affidavit, Cantrell took an Xbox from his neighbor, Steven Medley, along with a small box, and fled to his grandmother's home in Nashville. The grandmother believes he wasn't sober during the incident. The ashes were that of Medley's mother.

"They just made it sounds like he's a bad, terrible person broke in this house and stole this woman's ashes. I'm not saying he's not guilty but he didn't know what he was stealing," his mother Kathy told News Channel 5.

The good news is Cantrell's grandmother believes he did not appear to have snorted the ashes.

"On the top of it, it had a white piece of paper taped over it with date of birth, date of death, name and the funeral home," she said.

Not all human ash theft stories have such a happy ending.

In 2010, three Florida men stole human and dog remains, similarly thinking the urns contained crushed-up drugs, so they tasted and snorted the contents.

After pleading guilty to the theft, one of the convicted men apologized to the court.