WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- It started out as an average Sunday night for a local couple taking a romantic walk on the beach. That's until the two saw a mysterious object washed ashore.
What appeared at first to be a book turned out to be a dead woman's ashes.
"We decided what the heck. Let's go out. We haven't been to the beach yet together, so we decided to take a stroll here at Wrightsville," Dale Stewart said.
Stewart and his girlfriend were casually walking down the beach past Johnny Mercer's Pier, stopping every so often to pick up sea shells, when suddenly something unusual caught their eye.
"We were holding hands, stopped to kiss a couple of times, walked a little bit further past the lifeguard station, when I noticed this object flipping around in the water," Stewart said.
At first glance, the two thought the black object may have been a book or even a crab. But as they walked out into the water toward the mysterious item, they found it was nothing like they'd expected.
"I discovered it was someone who had been cremated," Stewart said.
As they further investigated the 10-pound box, they saw a sticker on the side that said "Jean Jewell/Date of Death: 9-28-10/Sex: F/Age: 69."
Stewart's girlfriend was shocked they had found what appeared to be the woman's ashes.
"She took a deep breath," Stewart said. "She was quite alarmed at first. She said, 'That's a person.'"
We were able to track down Jewell's death certificate through Haywood Funeral Home in Raleigh. It shows Jewell was born August 1, 1941 in Pamlico County.
Stewart says he's going to do whatever he can to get Jewell's ashes back to her family.
"If we get a hold of these people, we can get this out where it needs to be," he said.
We tried to contact who the funeral home told us was Jewell's daughter in Fuquay-Varina. Her phone number has been disconnected.