Family photo of Mattia Filippazzo, who died in 1998. Filippazzo's...

Family photo of Mattia Filippazzo, who died in 1998. Filippazzo's remains were discovered stolen from a mausoleum in St. Charles Cemetery on August 24, 2010, according to Suffolk police and Filippazzo's family. Credit: WCBS-TV

Nearly a year after the remains of a Valley Stream woman were stolen from the family tomb in East Farmingdale, the case is unsolved and a $35,000 reward is unclaimed.

"We've resigned to the fact that we might never find her remains," said Vincent Longo, 46, of his grandmother, Mattia Filippazzo, who died at age 87 in 1998.

A spokesman from the Suffolk County Police Office of Public Information said that the investigation is still open, but inactive, and that a tip that led to an arrest would still be eligible for a reward.

The macabre crime was discovered last Aug. 24. Grave robbers jumped a fence at St. Charles Cemetery, broke the locks of several stone crypts and tried to reach the coffins in three of them, police said. Only Filippazzo's coffin was disturbed.

The following week, the family offered a $5,000 reward. The Mangano Funeral Home in Deer Park also offered $10,000, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which owns St. Charles Cemetery, offered $15,000. Crime Stoppers of Suffolk County also offered up to $5,000 for information.

The initial theories on the theft have all led nowhere. Last year, Det. Lt. Robert Edwards of the First Squad said investigators had taken a crash course on religious or spiritual practices that could involve human remains. Other possible motives, he said, were hope for financial gain, retribution or even simple vandalism.

Joseph Mari, manager of the Mangano Funeral Home, said the home's $10,000 reward still stands. The funeral home would also cover the costs of re-entombing the remains and providing a new coffin and liner.

"When we heard about it, we just felt so bad," Mari said. "We didn't personally know the family, but it was devastating to us because we're in that cemetery so much. We wanted to help."

Filippazzo's family has mourned what they consider the second loss of their beloved mother and grandmother and tried to move past it.

Longo said that since the theft, almost all of Filippazzo's seven children have visited the tomb. Two or three children, he said, still find it too painful to visit.

Mattia's son Antonio Filippazzo, 66, of Brooklyn, said that after the theft, his mother's coffin was returned to the mausoleum.

"We still go, but we have an empty coffin," he said. "We know she's not there."

Longo does believe that a part of her still is there. "We've come to the realization that it's not her remains that are there, but her spirit," he said.

If his grandmother's remains were found, it would open up yet another chapter of grief for the family, Longo said.

"If we did find her remains, we would have to mourn her a third time," Longo said. "But we would do what is necessary."

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