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Infant's remains returned to couple


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POSTED: Saturday, November 21, 2009

The prayers of a Waimanalo couple were answered yesterday after a man returned the stolen ashes of their stillborn son.

Jason and Kalani Mejia kept the remains of their baby - who was born four months premature in 2006 - in their bedroom as part of a memorial shrine.

On Monday, burglars entered their home through a glass door and took jewelry, their 5-year-old son's Nintendo DS and jar of coins, and a box that held Samson Makanaokahakuloa's ashes.

Kalani Mejia said she had been overwhelmed by supportive e-mails from family, friends and strangers after their plea for help to get the ashes back.

“;I just want to send my love and my appreciation to those people who were praying for us,”; she said yesterday. “;The power of prayers is the most helpful thing.”;

;  In a public plea for help, the couple asked that whoever had the ashes return them, no questions asked. Yesterday they said they plan to honor that request and not turn in the man who gave them the ashes.

A voice message left at their home Thursday led to the reunion.

When Jason Mejia returned the call, a man said he found the box along the road in Waianae and called the family after hearing about their story.

Mejia agreed to meet him on the Waianae Coast after his shift ended as a Honolulu firefighter.

At about 9:15 a.m. Mejia met the man, who gave him his name but asked that he keep it private.

They had a conversation, and the man told Mejia a family member had wrapped the box in ti leaves and made ti leaf leis to dress it with. Then he returned the remains.

“;When I opened it back up and I looked, I knew it was what we were missing,”; Mejia said.

He shook the man's hand, gave him a hug and said, “;Thank you.”; Then he left.

“;We have the ashes back among our home, where he belongs,”; Mejia said yesterday from his home.

The Mejias also got back from the man some airline mile cards and insurance cards, but not their jewelry or their son's Nintendo DS. Jason Mejia lost his high school class ring and Prep Bowl ring, both engraved with his name, and his wedding ring. Kalani lost a Hawaiian bracelet with her name on it.

“;Although we'd love to have that back, we realize the most important thing has been returned to us,”; he said. “;We feel blessed that it was recovered.”;