plaque returned

LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -- After a thief stole a sentimental plaque with the hand and footprints of a Lawrence couple’s stillborn son, a letter carrier helped return the irreplaceable.

A U.S. Postal Service employee, Jacob Owens, was delivering mail to a grocery store near Louisiana and W. 23rd Street when he found the ceramic print on the ground near a parking spot.

Owens took another look at the plaque with Noah David’s tiny hand and footprints on it, unaware a family was searching for it.

“Looked like it had been through a rainstorm or two,” Owens said. “Had mud all over it.”

Before discarding it in that parking lot, someone had kicked in a door and stolen the plaque and some jewelry from Tim Gallagher and his wife’s home.

The thieves were possibly unaware of the true value of what they took.

“It’s such a personal object,” Gallagher said. “It has no monetary value.”

“Early on, I just decided I would forgive them,” he added.

As Gallagher forgave, he asked social media for help just in case the thief tossed the plaque and kept the jewelry.

KCTV5 News told you about his search on Oct. 9. On Oct. 26, we met with Gallagher again and, that time, he had the original plaque in hand thanks to Owens.

“It was in the right place for the right guy to find it at the right time,” Gallagher said.

Owens had brought the plaque to his post office to see if they could find the family it belonged to. His coworker, Emma Best, immediately recognized the plaque from social media posts and news coverage, so she messaged Gallagher right away and then he picked up the plaque.

“It is a great feeling,” Gallagher said. “It’s indescribable. What do you say to someone? You say, ‘Thank you for being a kind person.’”

He was also eager to meet Owens in person.

“I want to shake his hand and say, ‘Thank you for being a nice guy,” Gallagher said.

He did just that on Friday evening. “I appreciate it so much,” he said.

Owens delivers important letters every day, but seeing something so special returned to a family was heartwarming to him. “I’m very happy for that,” he said.

You may remember the family was already surprised once during their search for the plaque after the woman who made it back in 2004 saw their story and miraculously found she still had a copy of the original print in her closet.

She gave the family that copy, but now they also have the original back.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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