Arrest made, suspect IDed after luggage containing ashes stolen at Charlotte airport

Police and court records obtained by Channel 9 show Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers arrested one suspect and identified another after a family’s luggage was stolen from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in December. The luggage contained the ashes of their late son, Cody White.

Despite the arrests, the ashes have not been located.

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Vatara Lee, 48, is facing two felony charges in connection with the theft.

According to records, a CMPD officer saw Lee on Dec. 21 while patrolling Catherine Simmons Avenue in west Charlotte. The report states the officer recognized Lee from surveillance footage captured from the airport. The report states Lee confessed to the theft and worked with a second suspect, Alfonza Turner.

Turner, according to police and court records, was arrested on Dec. 20. The suspect is accused of stealing a different victim’s luggage from the airport.

Ann Sizemore, whose ex-husband’s luggage was stolen on Dec. 17, says she is glad the suspects have been identified but the case isn’t resolved.

“I am happy that arrests have been made but still sad that neither one of them are talking to let us know where Cody’s ashes are,” she said.

The luggage was stolen when Sizemore’s ex-husband returned to the Charlotte area after White’s funeral.

According to records, Lee is homeless. An October 2022 warrant for Turner lists him as someone experiencing homelessness or a transient.

Sizemore says Turner has been questioned about the bag’s location, but he is declining to share information.

“The male suspect has said that he doesn’t know what they are talking about even though they have him on video,” she said. “He just said, ‘Do what you got to do’ then and he doesn’t know anything about any luggage.”

Sizemore is grateful for the Charlotte community’s support and is asking for the public’s help in looking out for the black suitcase or a black box that contains her son’s ashes. The box is labeled Cody White.

“I am just hoping everybody keeps their eyes out and peeled and if something looks a little off-kilter and you see a black box or piece of luggage, just check it out and turn it in,” she said.

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