[Photo courtesy of the Grand County Sheriff's Office]

Margaret Griffith might never see her mother’s ashes again.

But she found some relief when she learned that authorities recovered family mementos and valuables from a man accused of stealing items from at least eight homes around Moab, including her residence on the east side of town.

The Grand County Attorney’s Office has charged Jon Eric Walker with 16 felonies in two separate cases, following his arrest last month on numerous theft- and burglary-related offenses.

The 44-year-old Moab man is scheduled to be arraigned in 7th District Court on Tuesday, April 21, after he waived his right to preliminary hearings in both cases.

Altogether, Walker stands accused of 12 second-degree felonies, including eight counts of burglary of a dwelling, three counts of theft and one count of theft by receiving stolen property. He also faces a combined total of four third-degree felony theft charges and three misdemeanor offenses.

Authorities allege that Walker stole jewelry, money, coins, knives and family keepsakes – including an urn that contained the remains of Griffith’s mother – on numerous occasions between Jan. 24 and March 9.

In at least three instances, the alleged victims reported that someone stole more than $5,000 in items from their homes on West Center Street, Bartlett Circle and 400 East, according to court records. Others who were allegedly targeted claim that the value of stolen items ranged from as little as $500 to less than $5,000, court records say.

According to Griffith, police recovered numerous items and then returned them to the alleged victims.

“A lot of people got a lot of stuff back,” she said.

Griffith said she was especially pleased to watch a young girl’s reaction as police handed over something that belonged to her.

“It was wonderful to see her face,” she said.

As for Griffith herself, a baby ring and a baby necklace that belonged to her daughters when they were young children are back in her possession. Police also returned her mother’s old watch, which no longer works, she said.

However, the sterling silver urn that contains her mother’s ashes was not among the items that police have recovered to date. Griffith is not optimistic that she’ll be reunited with the urn, or the many other family belongings that she considers to be priceless.

According to Griffith, the person who allegedly stole her mother’s ashes also made off with a box full of enameled jewelry that her mother made, along with her mother’s collection of $2 bills and personal family papers related to births, marriages and deaths. Other stolen items included gold, silver and turquoise jewelry, as well as prescription medications and her Social Security card, Griffith said.

Although she remains deeply upset about the losses, Griffith is philosophical about them.

“I figure I can take a hit better than an 11-year-old girl can,” she said.

However, the allegations against Walker sting, based on her personal connection to him.

Griffith said she gave him food for his grandmother’s cats. She also helped him trap a number of cats, and she was there for him when he took the animals in to be spayed or neutered.

As of press time, neither Walker nor his attorney had filed any motions related to either case.

However, Walker reported that he is indigent and unemployed, with a bank account balance of negative $41.30, along with $75,000 in debt to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to his affidavit of indigency, he owes the State of Utah $15,000 in back taxes, has an outstanding balance of $15,000 in student loans and is $2,400 in hock to a relative.

Based on his affidavit, 7th District Judge Lyle R. Anderson appointed Grand County Public Defender Don Torgerson to serve as Walker’s attorney.

Walker remains in custody at the Grand County Jail.

Jon Eric Walker allegedly stole woman’s cremated remains

A lot of people got a lot of stuff back.