LAKELAND (FOX 13) - The stolen ashes of a retired Lakeland Police Department officer - along with piles of stolen valuables, IDs, and passports - were recovered after the arrest of a "prolific residential burglary suspect," according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Detectives arrested 27-year-old Daniel Antonio Nolasco Cardona in Miami on Tuesday and charged him in connection with four residential burglaries in Lakeland, including the report of a stolen urn containing the ashes of retired LPD Officer Buddy Newsome.
Jewelry and cash were also reported stolen from other burglarized residences.
Investigators were able to identify Cardona when a surveillance camera recorded video of a suspect getting into a Dodge minivan. That van was tracked to a rental agency and then to Cardona, who has now been implicated in 14 other thefts in nine Florida counties, including Brevard, Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, and St. Johns.
Meanwhile, after a weeklong search, Michelle Newsome got back what she holds most dear.
"Thank you doesn't seem like it's adequate enough, but I am just so pleased," she said holding the urn containing her late husband’s ashes.
After traveling all over Florida with an accused serial burglar, Judd was as surprised as he was pleased to return her treasure.
"I wouldn't have bet you at all that we would have found this urn but our detectives found it," he said.
Cardona faces charges of criminal mischief, burglary, conspiracy, unlawful use of a 2-way communications device, grand theft, and destroying a monument or gravestone.
Sheriff Judd said Cardona has used several aliases in the past, including the one he used to rent the van - Samuel David Orellena Ulloa.