Mother pleads for return of stolen purse that had baby's ashes

Mother pleads for return of stolen purse that had baby's ashes

TACOMA, Wash. -- Kelly Potis holds her breath and holds out hope as she searches dozens of dumpsters in Tacoma and University Place.

"Could this dumpster be the one that I find it in?" she says as she holds open the lid.

Potis is hunting for the worn brown leather Roxy hobo bag purse that held her baby's ashes.

"I lost him. He could be in the garbage. He doesn't belong in the garbage," she cried.

Last Sunday would have been her son Frankie's 14th birthday. The baby with the big eyes and Binky in every photo, died of leukemia a month after turning one.

"It never dawned on me that there would be a day without Frankie," said Potis.

13 years later, Potis treasures her son's baby blanket, his chewed up pacifier, and photos. This was the year she planned to share Frankie's ashes with her other children. His older brother who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan now has his own place. Frankie's sister is now old enough to understand.

Potis had some of Frankie's ashes added to a cream statue for his brother. The statue is of an angel wearing a backward ball cap. She added ashes to a silver cross pendant for her daughter.

On Frankie's birthday, she headed out to deliver those gifts. Potis says she felt emotional and stopped to buy a bottle of water at a 7-11 on S. 38th and S. Junett near Tacoma's mall.

"When I came out, my purse was gone," she 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 lost her license, her checkbook, and in a sense, her child.

"It was his birthday and he could have been thrown in a garbage," she said. "I just feel I lost him again."

She doesn't care about the bag or most of its belongings but is pleading for the return of the pendant and angel that held Frankie's ashes. They were wrapped in white tissue paper with a blue ribbon.

Potis can't stop blaming herself or searching.

"I won't give up hope," she said. "He didn't give up ever and I'll just keep looking."