A few weeks ago, an unsuspecting plumber, as he worked on converting the old Centralia High School building into a new space for the City Hope Church, found some wallets stashed in an air duct in what was a women’s restroom. He pulled these wallets out of the bathroom wall as he tore it down for remodeling.
Seth Baltzell, City Hope’s pastor, says the plumber found him in another part of the building and approached him with a cardboard box containing the wallets. It “took me a second to figure out what in the world he was saying,” says Baltzell, who had been hoping that the demolition work might turn up some historical surprises like these.
But why would the wallets turn up hidden in a women’s bathroom wall? As it turns out, these wallets were most likely stolen, and somebody hid them there.
It’s probably not possible to know what happened with total certainty, but the “best we could tell” is that a thief was trying to “ditch the evidence” of the crimes, says Baltzell. In the clearest sign of sticky fingers at work, none of the wallets contained any paper currency when they were found, though they still hold a trove of precious personal effects. Then there’s the apparent fastidiousness with which the wallets were hidden: behind brass sheets insulating the duct within the wall, according to Baltzell. Surely they were being secreted.
In an attempt to return these wallets to their rightful owners, the pastor posted photos of the wallets on Facebook.
Find out what happened next on Atlas Obscura.
(Image Credit: Seth Baltzell)