(WSVN) - She hired a woman to take care of her cats while she was out of town. When she returned, almost all of her valuables were gone, including something that can never be replaced: her son’s ashes. To help find them, she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Sara had to go out of town and needed someone to take care of her two cats. She found a woman through a cat sitting website.
Sara Velasquez: “She came, and I showed her around. I showed her where everything was, you know, instructions for the cats, etcetera.”
After Sara left, the cat sitter posted a video from Sara’s kitchen showing she was taking care of the animals.
Leetah Faye: “I am going to take organic cat food, and I’m going to split it into two bowls.”
Sara Velasquez: “That was shot in my kitchen. I’m 100% sure. “
But when Sara returned from her trip, she found the woman had not been taking of her apartment.
Sara Velasquez: “It was a mess.”
Sara was OK with the mess, until she discovered why everything had been thrown around. Nearly every valuable item she owned was gone.
Sara Velasquez: “I opened the other closet, and I found one of my bags where I had all my silver stuff was practically empty.”
The keys to unlock her cabinets were hidden behind the linen. Someone had found them and unlocked all her cabinets.
Sara Velasquez: “My mom’s vintage sunglasses were gone, a Gucci watch and another bracelet.”
Nearly $20,000 worth of jewelry was gone, but the greatest loss was a small urn.
Sara Velasquez: “The urn where my baby’s ashes are, so I just panicked.”
The urn, holding the ashes of her son Mateo, who died when he was 1 month old.
Sara Velasquez: “There’s all kinds of thefts and violation, but this is sacred.”
Sara called the Miami Beach Police.
When they arrived, they discovered a box containing pictures of the cat sitter had been left behind, and there was a list that said, “Selling items,” “Home Depot returns” and “pawn items.”
Miami Beach Police found the shop where some of Sara’s items had been pawned. Sara went there, and she showed the manager a picture of the cat sitter.
Sara Velasquez: “‘Yes, that’s the lady that came. She’s probably on the cameras, because I have cameras.'”
The pawn shop manager told Sarah that the woman tried to sell him what was probably the urn, but he didn’t buy it.
Sara Velasquez: “‘I didn’t take it because it didn’t have the Tiffany and Company seal on it.'”
Now Sara waits. The police told her not to speak to the cat sitter while they investigate and try to find something that can never be replaced.
Sara Velasquez: “It is sacred remains. You’re talking about remains.”
Well, Howard, are a person’s ashes treated differently than stolen property?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Florida law does not give special protection to a person’s ashes stolen from a home. It’s petty theft. However, if the urn or any other property that’s taken is worth more than $100, it’s a third-degree felony, and if anyone sells the items, that’s what the law calls dealing in stolen property, which can send a person to prison for 15 years.”
The pawn shop manager told me he could not release a picture of the driver’s license of the person who pawned the items. He gave it all to police.
Leetah Faye: “Hi there. My name is Leetah Faye. I am a world famous dog walker.”
We contacted Leetah Faye, who also goes by Leetah Faye Nickel, who was the cat sitter for Sara.
She told me she never took anything, texting, “There is definitely a third party involved here, as I would never steal someone’s sentimental belongings,” and writing, “I think someone stole her key and ransacked it. It’s cruel and horrifying,” adding, “I will find out who did this and find her urn, and fix all this.”
Miami Beach Police told us they would like to speak with Leetah Faye Nickel regarding this investigation.
Sara Velasquez: “This is the bag where I had the Tiffany stuff.”
As Sara goes through her closet, she is still realizing more things are missing, but her goal is to get back that one irreplaceable item.
Sara Velasquez: “Just please return my urn. That’s the most important thing.”
If you know where Leetah Faye Nickel is, Miami Beach Police would love to hear from you, and of course, if you know where that urn is, Sara would greatly appreciate your help in finding it.
Someone stole your trust in people? Want to see if it can be returned? Contact us. Let’s see if we can apprehend a good solution for you.
With this Help me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.