Illinois woman gets wallet back 75 years after it was stolen

A plumber found 15 wallets in a vent while doing renovations at an old high school in Illinois. (Seth Baltzell/Facebook)

CENTRALIA, Ill. (WTHR) - An Illinois woman has her stolen wallet back - 75 years after it went missing.

A plumber was working on renovations to the old Centralia High School when he cut into a vent. Fifteen wallets, believed to have been stolen in the mid-1940s, fell out of the heat duct behind a toilet.

There was no cash in any of the wallets, though there were several photos of soldiers - no surprise given the era from which the items came.

The pastor of City Hope Church, which is moving into the school, posted a photo of the box of wallets to Facebook. Thousands of people shared the post, which put the photo in front of Betty June Sissom's family.

Crazy Story! While demoing out the old high school in Centralia Illinois recently we found a stash of what we assumed...

Posted by Seth Baltzell on Thursday, June 20, 2019

The 89-year-old grew up in Centralia and remembered losing her red wallet when she was in school. Pastor Seth Balzell asked KSDK-TV in St. Louis to return it to her.

"I remember it was red and I remember I lost my wallet...I can't believe this from all these years ago. That's me with a little boy by the name of Jimmy Kane and I had a crush on him," Sissom said. "Oh my goodness, look at the boys' pictures I have. They took all the money, huh?"

Even without the cash, Sissom said it was "unbelievable" that she had her wallet back after all these years.