Authorities are trying to figure out how a "well-tended" grave came to be placed under a tree in Gloucester Township, Camden County and whose body it contained.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said the grave was discovered by people walking along the county's Lakeland complex grounds on April 20.
Since then, investigators have been puzzled at how to solve the mystery of what appear to be cremated human remains in the grave. The grave site overlooks a potter's field and is situated on county property, but not in a legal burial location.
Investigators have exhumed the remains and are searching for the deceased's family.
The grave was marked with a small cross, a stuffed animal and a statue of a kneeling cherub, according to the prosecutor's office. Also, a mat and fresh flowers had been placed at the grave.
Authorities suspect the items are telltale signs that the grave contained the body of a child or infant.
During exhumation, investigators found a cardboard box containing a velvet bag with a drawstring that held a Ziploc bag filled with ashes from cremated remains. The cremation appears to have been handled professionally and there is nothing to indicate the death is suspicious, authorities say.
The labeled ashes bore a female name. The prosecutor's office is not releasing the name and hopes the family will come forward or be identified in a nonpublic way. Investigators have not been able to find a death certificate for a person bearing that name, nor identify a crematorium that handled a death of anyone by that name.
Investigators left a note at the site asking someone to claim the remains.So far, they have not heard anything.
But they hope that whoever was tending the grave will come forward and provide a death certification, and how the body was disposed in order to rule out the possibility of a crime.