LIVERMORE, Calif. - A blended Livermore family is heartbroken after the ashes of a 16-year-old boy who died of cancer were stolen from a Livermore gym.
"It had so much meaning to me — priceless, really," said Tyler Leonis, 18, referring to the chain and charm that had his brother's ashes.
"I literally try to wear it every single day," Tyler said. "When I sleep I take it off and in the sauna (because) it gets hot, that’s the only reason why. Other than that, it’s always on me."
The piece of jewelry was stolen Monday night when Tyler was at the 24 Hour Fitness on Kitty Hawk in Livermore. He left his necklace in an unlocked locker when he went to the sauna. But when he returned, it was gone.
The theft only adds to his grief.
His brother Deven died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 16. Tyler was only 10 years old.
"It was a very tough loss. He was one of my best friends," Tyler said.
Tyler and other relatives, even a family dog, have all kept Deven's ashes on their necks.
"We all carry Deven around on our bodies to keep him with us, to keep him present," said Deven's mother, Angie Silva, who says she's "a little bit numb. A little bit violated."
Silva asked, "How would you feel if someone went to the cemetery and dug up your mom and stole her?"
Mea Leonis is Tyler's mother and was Deven's stepmom.
"It just opens up a wound to think that a piece of him is not in the right hands," she said.
Deven had always been a fighter. He was born two months premature and endured many open-heart surgeries. He was diagnosed with cancer on his 14th birthday.
"I want him remembered as the great, inspiring boy that he always wanted to be. Deven always knew that his life would be cut short," Mea Leonis said.
Deven and Tyler share the same father. The two women weren’t always close, but they say in sickness, Deven brought the twp mothers closer.
"He told her, ‘I got cancer to bring you and my mom back together again.’ And that is why we are the strong family that we are," Silva said.
Tyler said, "I just want it back. It means a lot. You can take any other necklace. Just..that’s my brother’s necklace."