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Purse stolen 600 miles away in 1984 finally returned to owner

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Sometimes it’s better late than never, especially when it comes to your belongings.

A South Mississippi woman was a little stunned last week when she received a message about a purse that was stolen from her 37 years ago in South Carolina.

In 1984, Avery Kender of Gulfport was 21-years-old living in North Carolina with her newborn baby and husband. With her husband about to be deployed to Japan, they decided that it would be best for her to move back with her parents in South Carolina.

“He didn’t want me there all alone with a newborn baby,” said Kender. “So I agreed to stay with my parents in Greenville, South Carolina.”

It was at a Hardees there where the unthinkable happened: Kender’s purse was stolen out of her lap.

‘I was sitting in a booth and I had my purse between my legs,” said Kender. “I saw a hand come over my shoulder, and he grabbed the straps before I could realize what happened and he ran out.”

She filed a police report, but nothing ever happened. Last week - more than 37 years later - Kender got a message on Facebook from someone saying saying that she found the stolen purse in her grandmother’s attic.

“Her grandmother is elderly and she was helping her clean the attic out, and she found a box that belonged to her uncle,” said Kender.

At the time, she was 21-years-old living in North Carolina with her newborn baby.
At the time, she was 21-years-old living in North Carolina with her newborn baby.(Avery Kender)

The woman told Kender she believed her uncle stole the purse, saying he was addicted to drugs and died in a car crash just months before she was born. The woman asked Kender if she wanted to burn or keep everything. Kender decided that she wanted to take a walk down memory lane.

Now, 37 years later, she’s in awe of what was delivered to her in the mail.

“It had old credit cards of banks that have gone out of business, my social security card, checkbooks, receipts,” said Kender.

At the time, she was 21-years-old living in North Carolina with her newborn baby
At the time, she was 21-years-old living in North Carolina with her newborn baby(Avery Kender)

However, a few things were missing.

“My $80...Also, all my pictures of my son when he was a newborn, pictures of my husband in his uniform, my military ID,” she said. “The pictures are what upsets me the most. I’m sentimental.”

Despite the money and pictures being gone, Kender said she’s amazed by this experience.

“This woman went above and beyond. It just amazes me,” said Kender. “If this doesn’t restore your faith in human kindness, then I don’t know what will.”

The woman told Kender that she found other people’s belongings and is working to get them back to the rightful owners, as well.

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