Theft of daughter’s ashes a blow to grieving father

LAKE STEVENS — Ken Marcum had a bad feeling when he slipped his house key into the lock.

Before he could twist it clockwise, the front door swung open.

Someone broke into his Lake Stevens home between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 27 while the framing contractor was on a job.

It all seemed strange. The medicine cabinet and dresser drawers were left open, but a laptop computer and two cameras left in plain sight weren’t touched. Such items typically are grabbed in burglaries for a quick sale on the black market.

What was taken was as irreplaceable as it was heart-breaking to Marcum.

Someone stole a cherry-wood box that contained the ashes of his daughter.

Corina Marie Collins-Marcum, 22, was his only child. She didn’t make much money working at a minimum-wage job, but she still managed to donate $40 each month to an organization helping impoverished children in Third World countries.

Marcum considered the 2007 Lake Stevens High School graduate more than his daughter. To Marcum, she was his best friend. They shared a home on a hill west of Highway 9. The single dad made sure she got the largest bedroom.

That’s where Marcum found her lifeless body a year ago. She’d had a friend over for a visit the previous night, but when Marcum went to greet her the next morning, as was his custom, she was dead. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office determined she died of an overdose. Marcum wants whoever provided the drugs to be prosecuted.

The Lake Stevens Police Department investigated her death. It sent its report to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, which declined to file charges.

“There wasn’t enough probable cause for arresting an individual,” Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori said.

Marcum has hired an attorney to continue looking into what happened.

The recent burglary has added another layer of anguish to Marcum’s life.

“I just want my daughter back,” Marcum said. “This basically to me is a kidnapping. It’s no different than digging up a grave.”

He has talked to his neighbors and people who walk their dogs past his home. No one seemed to have seen anything.

Marcum said he doesn’t care who stole the box; he just wants it — and its contents — back, no questions asked.

He hopes that if anyone knows anything about the burglary or the whereabouts of the box, they will find a way to return it.

Police continue to investigate the break-in.

“We are following up on some leads,” Celori said. “We don’t know if it’s connected to a little (burglary) ring we have had.”

Marcum’s mother, Dianne Malone, has witnessed the pain the burglary has caused her son.

“It would just be nice if someone had the heart to return the ashes,” she said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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