Mother hopes to get son's ashes from abandoned apartment

Remains could be tied up in formal eviction process, court hearings

SAN ANTONIO – Mary Cruz feels as though her hands are tied.

For several weeks, she has been trying to get possession of her son's ashes from the apartment, Cruz said, was abandoned by her son's common-law wife.

Etelberto Zapata, 42, died Oct. 17, 2014, of a heart attack.

"Those are my son's ashes," Cruz said. "He was my first born. As a mother losing a son, it hurts so dear, so deep inside you."

Cruz said Zapata's common-law wife moved out of the apartment they shared at the Colonia Remigio Valdez Jr. Apartments two months ago, leaving Zapata's ashes and several other belongings behind.

"We found out by a neighbor, and they say everything is in there," Cruz said.

Cruz said she has contacted the manager of the complex and the Housing Authority of Bexar County and provided her son's death certificate, but has not received answers about what it will take to get her son's remains.

KSAT 12 contacted the apartment manager Thursday, who said she was working to resolve the issue and believed it would end "in the family's favor."

But calls to the HCAB suggest Zapata's ashes could remain tied up in red tape for some time. 

A representative with HCAB said any time a tenant abandons an apartment, they must be formally evicted. Then it remains up to a judge to decide what happens to the contents of the apartment.

The representative could not share Thursday whether the formal eviction process had begun.

So Cruz still waits.

"I can't express, I have no words to express," Cruz said. "But I would love his ashes. That's all I'm asking."

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