Police investigating after Kansas woman’s ashes found in Olathe park


OLATHE, Kan. — Police in one Johnson County city have a mystery on their hands.

An urn holding the cremated remains of a woman were discovered at Lake Olathe Park, and the woman had no ties to Olathe or Johnson County whatsoever.

Records found inside the urn showed 97-year-old Eunice Sneidmiller was a native of Russell, Kansas, and she died in 2005.

A routine stroll through the park resulted in that unique discovery.

Kevin Halfmann, who lives near the park, spotted the shiny box, which turned out to be a receptacle for cremation ashes, in late February.

Police said their investigation showed Sneidmiller, who was of German descent, but had emigrated to the United States from Russia, was supposed to be interred beside her husband at their gravesite in Russell County.

A police spokesperson said Sneidmiller had no family living in Olathe, and they’re unsure how her remains got there.

“I think we all scratched our heads,” Halfmann said. “It was odd as heck. You start trying to put the story together in your head. How did this happen? Who would have left it here?”

Olathe Police Sgt. Joel Yeldell said police learned Eunice had been cremated in California. Sneidmiller still has a nephew living there, but he’s uncertain why his aunt’s ashes weren’t handled properly.

John Sneidmiller, 88, is believed to be Eunice’s last remaining relative.

“The right person found Eunice’s urn,” Yeldell said. “At this point, we’re interested in knowing the story and completing the puzzle on how she made it here to Olathe.”

“I was really surprised to hear the ashes didn’t get where they were supposed to have gone,” John Sneidmiller said. “I couldn’t believe they ended up on the other side of Kansas instead of being in Russell, Kansas. It was amazing to me.”

Next Thursday, a contingent of Olathe Police officers will transport Euince Sneidmiller’s ashes home for good. Yeldell said he’ll also make the 3-and-a-half hour trip and conduct a small graveside memorial service for Eunice.

“We’re looking forward to closing this story, and the appropriate ending for Eunice. Hopefully, it’s a good ending,” Yeldell said.

“To me, it’s kind of poetic that you get put to rest someplace. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. God rest her soul,” Halfmann said.

Yeldell said to his knowledge, no laws were broken by whomever abandoned Sneidmiller’s ashes.

Funding for the trip to Russell will come from a special fund Olathe Police have for unforeseen community needs.

FOX4 reached out to the Neptune Society, the cremation service that handled Sneidmiller’s arrangements, but their managers in Kansas City didn’t know why Eunice was never properly interred.

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