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Couple seeking return of baby’s ashes after U-Haul theft in Covington
Search did not find heart-shaped urn inside 26-foot truck after its recovery in Atlanta
The Bentons are seeking the return of this urn containing the ashes of their six-month-old son, who died five years ago. (Special Photo | Benjamin Benton)

COVINGTON, Ga. — A heart-shaped urn with the remains of a South Carolina couple’s baby son was among items still missing today after thieves took a U-Haul truck containing their belongings from outside a Covington hotel early Wednesday.

Police were investigating the 1:24 a.m. theft of the white Ford F-650 truck from the parking lot of La Quinta Inn at 9159 Access Road.

The victim, Benjamin Benton, is in the Air Force and he and his family were moving after his recent transfer from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, said Capt. Ken Malcom of the Covington Police Department.

The black, heart-shaped urn contained the remains of the couple’s six-month-old son, who died in 2016.

“We just want our son,” Benton said.

Sgt. Allan Seebaran of the Covington Police Department said the couple will be given the chance to look through the remaining items.

“They won’t rest until they have absolute closure,” Seebaran said.

Thieves took most of the couple’s belongings and abandoned the 26-foot truck on the side of a south Atlanta road, he said.

A report stated the victim had last seen the truck Tuesday, March 2, at 11 p.m.

At around 1:17 a.m., a man wearing “possibly” a grey hoodie top, light colored pants and a light-colored baseball cap exited a large black SUV with its lights off on Woodhaven Drive next to the hotel, Malcom said.

“He then walked along the roadway to the eastern end of the hotel’s parking lot where the U-Haul was parked, in an effort to avoid the hotel’s surveillance cameras,” Malcom said. 

Seven minutes later, the suspect was seen on video driving the U-Haul west on Access Road, Malcom said. 

“A compact or midsize car met with the SUV briefly before everyone left. The SUV followed the U-Haul traveling west on the Access Road,” Malcom said.

Seebaran said the theft apparently was “the work of people who knew what they were doing,” based on the method they used to break door locks and the ignition.

He said he was notified today about 7 a.m. that the Atlanta Police Department had recovered the truck and trailer after APD was notified they were parked on the side of Forrest Park Road.

The thieves took “any items of value” but left some clothes, kitchen and baby items, and a bed, Seebaran said.

He said he searched through what was left but could not locate the 3-inch by 4-inch urn, which had gold trim and writing on the top, Seebaran said. 

Benton told police the truck and a trailer contained the urn and $25,000 worth of items including his family’s belongings and household items, a $15,000 motorcycle, all of the victim’s Air Force clothing, and legal documents, among other things.

The victim’s 2018 Harley-Davidson XL883N Iron motorcycle was described as being matte black in color with an eagle Harley Davidson logo on the gas tank, black windshield, black swing arm bag on the back, and a Harley Davidson #1 logo on a small bell on the front of the bike. 

One right mirror was turned upside down, and the clear coat on the gas tank was rubbed off, Malcom said.

Those with information about the case are asked to contact the Covington Police Department at 770-385-2122.