Cremated remains found outside Peoria Zoo; Coroner’s Office hoping to reconnect remains with family

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Trying to facilitate a rare reunion.

The Peoria County Coroner’s Office says a Peoria Park District employee found cremated remains on a bench outside the Peoria Zoo.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood then took to Facebook to see if he could find a connection to get the remains put into the right hands.

The remains’ packaging says they belong to Augstine Portugal, who died back in 2016, and that they came from Boston’s Mortuary located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Coroner Harwood says his goal now is it honor the person by ensuring they get a proper burial.

“Obviously we want to find a family member who may have left them behind, or unintentionally forgot them. So that’s the best guess is to try to find a family member first. A lot of people are without family unfortunately,” Harwood said.

Harwood says if no one comes forward to pick up the remains, they will be part of the yearly burial for unclaimed remains, hosted at St. Mary’s Cemetery in West Peoria.

Boston’s Mortuary tells WMBD they have not been able to find Portugal’s records yet, as they have changed buildings and ownership since 2016.

Harwood says this isn’t the first time cremated remains have randomly appeared.

“This is the second time that something similar to this has happened. We actually had someone bring us some remains from a house they were renting on the North Valley. They found remains they found in the closet,” Harwood said. “It’s rare that it happens, but we do our best to see where they came from, what family member or close friend we can connect them with.”

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