Rev. Ardell Gathright, 87, was shopping at a Meridian grocery store when he found a wallet. It contained credit cards, an out of state driver's license and $86 in cash.
Gathright took the wallet to the front window at the police department.
Over the next two weeks, he said he returned several times to see if the owner had been found. On one of those visits, Gathright said he found the same officer on duty.
"But he wouldn't talk about the pocketbook," said Gathright. "He came outside and left the seat in the office. He came outside to talk to me and then I said there's something funny. It seemed like he don't want them to know that a pocketbook had been turned in here."
Gathright said he told the officer he was getting ready to file a report and got an immediate response.
"Now you know there wasn't no money in there," Gathright quoted the officer. "I said, oh yes, it was. Oh no, there wasn't no money, he said. I said, yes, it was. There was $86. I said my son standing up here beside me and knows that there was money in it."
His son called NewsCenter 11 and we, in turn contacted Chief of Police Benny Dubose. Today Dubose confirmed Rev. Gathright's story.
"I'm totally convinced that Mr. Gathright is telling the truth about turning in a wallet," said Chief Dubose. "I'm convinced the wallet did contain $86. We did not follow procedure in this particular incident. And from what I've learned so far in this investigation, we have not been following procedure as far as found items are concerned. The officer in question has requested and will receive a polygraph examination in an attempt to clear himself. It did happen and we are totally responsible."
Rev. Gathright said he just wanted the right thing to be done.
NewsCenter 11 has learned what happened to the wallet. It was put into a box of items to be thrown away, a collection of wallets and purses that were unclaimed and had no identification inside. The wallet apparently was thrown away with the rest.