Ashes of veteran stolen from home

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. -- A Mesa family is shocked and heartbroken as the holiday approaches, after a burglar broke into their home and stole the cremated ashes of a husband, father, and war veteran.

This horrible crime happened when nobody was home a week ago. Shirley Burke was on vacation when her real estate agent called to say the house had been burglarized.

The bad guys even opened all the Christmas presents. But one missing item was more precious and irreplaceable and personal than the rest.

A brave veteran of the Korean war and a career law enforcement officer, Doyle Burke passed away in 2001, after 39 years of marriage to his wife, Shirley.

"We, of course, hadn't had a chance to get back to Tennessee, so we still had them on a shelf," she says of his ashes. Recently Shirley made the tough decision to sell the house where she and Doyle had raised their family.

If that wasn't hard enough, last week, burglars broke in and stole everything. "Washer and dryer are gone, 65-inch television and 42-inch plasma in the bedroom," she says, But one missing item was   irreplaceable: a box containing the ashes of the late Doyle Burke.

"I just think that they have no conscience at all," Shirley says. "I don't know how they could do something like that. I can't conceive of this; it's really difficult for me to accept this."

Shirley's daughters are devastated and angry as well. "He deserves better and he needs to be with his family," they say. "He's part of our family and they have no right to take that from us. There's just no reason they would need to take that from us."

Of course, the Burkes would like the bad guys caught, but even more, they want the ashes back. "They need to give it back and they need to realize, if they have any sort of conscience, heart, anything left in their being, they would give that back and return it to us."

Shirley agrees. "Just return the ashes so Doyle can rest in peace and the Burkes can have their beloved patriarch back in the family," she says. "Keep everything else; just bring back the ashes. That's part of our family."

Mesa police say the burglars also stole some guns, including Doyle's Navy service pistol. They're hoping one of the guns, or another traceable item from the theft will pop up and give them a lead.