William Patterson has been searching for much more than his white 2001 Oldsmobile Alero since it was stolen in April from the Dillons parking lot, 1015 W. 23rd St.
An urn with the ashes of his mother, 49-year-old Angela Capell, who died March 10, were inside.
“Everything hinged on that car, and it’s just been really hard,” said the 22-year-old Lawrence man. “When it rains, it pours.”
Patterson had inherited the Alero and was using it not only as his only means of transportation but to store his belongings as he’s been living with friends trying to make it through a rough patch.
According to a Lawrence police report made April 11, the vehicle valued at $3,000 was stolen the afternoon of April 10 from the parking lot. Patterson said his girlfriend was using the car, and it was stolen while she was shopping. He said the vehicle was locked and secure when it was taken.
His birth certificate, most of his clothing, stereo equipment and other valuables were inside. He has been staying with friends in the last few weeks, but he said not being able to use the car has created hardships, including losing his job.
The car is also another connection for Patterson to his mother’s memory because he said she was kind and would often give friends rides in it if needed.
Patterson said he is hopeful the vehicle can be recovered. Friends last week also believed they saw the vehicle in the same store’s parking lot, and he stayed there for several hours hoping to see it again. Patterson said friends talked to people at gas stations and convenience stores along 23rd Street to see if they had seen anything.
Kim Murphree, a Lawrence police spokeswoman, said earlier this week that security camera footage police examined amid a report of the vehicle returning to the same parking lot was inconclusive.
Patterson said the car has features that make it easy to identify, including a smiley face in red spray paint on the hood and rear fins that are silver instead of white, the car’s main color.
He hopes attention to the case would help him at least recover the urn with his mother’s ashes.
“They’re irreplaceable. They’re priceless,” he said. “It makes me angry and sad and depressed. It’s hard to get up and start your day every day with just the weight of this one me, as well as the fact that it’s hard to get done every day what I need to get done without the car.”