Dan and Colten Dalton and their grandmother checked out of the Flamingo on Tuesday afternoon with 10 hours to go until their flight back to Ohio.
They thought a stroll down the Strip was in order to pass the time and lighten the gloom of the trip, and they left their luggage with the bell desk. Among their items was something irreplaceable: the ashes of the family’s 45-year-old mother and daughter, Terra Dalton, who died Jan. 10 while vacationing in Las Vegas.
When they returned around 6:30 p.m. to collect their luggage, it was gone. They were told by the bell desk and Flamingo security that an unknown couple mistakenly picked up their luggage.
“I feel like I’ve lost my mom twice now,” Dan Dalton said over the phone Wednesday.
At McCarran International Airport, the Daltons filed a report with the Metropolitan Police Department. In it, police said Flamingo security had footage of a man and a woman in their 40s giving bell staff a stub and picking up the Daltons’ luggage.
Colten said Thursday that he lost his luggage stub while he and the family were touring about the Strip.
But the family is still wondering how the mix-up could happen, he said.
“They showed us a ticket and said somebody had claimed it and told us there was nothing (they) could do,” Colten said of Flamingo bell staff.
Reached for comment Thursday morning, the Flamingo bell desk forwarded questions to Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns the hotel. A corporate spokeswoman who answered the phone said the company would respond with a comment. Caesars Entertainment had not commented as of Thursday afternoon.
There was no confirmation from police that the unknown couple purposely grabbed the missing ticket and stole the family’s luggage. But the case is categorized as a burglary, according to Metro spokesman Aden OcampoGomez. He said this is not a widespread issue at Las Vegas hotels.
“We haven’t heard of any trend or anything saying we need to be aware of this,” OcampoGomez said.
But Colten and Dan are still questioning why bell staff did not ask the couple for ID before giving them the bags.
“This can’t be the first time someone’s lost their luggage tag,” Dan said.
‘She loved Vegas’
Weeks earlier, Terra Dalton had made her first trip out West since she moved to North Carolina late last year. Her family had arrived Sunday to collect Terra’s ashes and bring them to her hometown of Canton, Ohio, where the family also lives.
Terra Dalton’s obituary described her as a “gypsy” soul who stayed on the road as much as she could and stopped in Vegas more often than not. Her boyfriend surprised her with a trip to Vegas for Christmas, her sons said.
“I do think maybe she was meant to be there when she passed,” Colten said. “She loved Vegas.”
Her death was sudden, but Colten and Dan said their mother had health issues. She lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and required an oxygen tank. The family is awaiting the results of her autopsy.
More than 2,000 miles away, in Canton, the family still hopes to be able to give Terra a final goodbye.
“Our family wants nothing but our loved ones remains,” Dan Dalton wrote to the Review-Journal. He hopes the people who took the luggage will return the container with his mother’s remains and keepsakes.
The box with her ashes and paperwork is marked “Terra Kay Dalton.”
“She’s not home,” Colten said Thursday. “She’s not here with us.”