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Woman Reunited With Stolen Wallet 23 Years Later

The old saying "better late than never" never rang truer than for one South Carolina woman after she was recently reunited with her wallet 23 years after it was stolen.

Jeri Cox Chastain, 52, of Reidville, S.C., thought the Spartanburg Police Department had been kidding when it called her last Wednesday.

"At first I thought it was a trick when he said he needed me to come down to the police station," Chastain told ABCNews.com. "He said, 'I'm holding your blue wallet,' and I thought, 'Are you kidding me?'"

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Chastain can still remember the exact day in 1990 when her navy blue wallet went missing from the hospital where she worked as a medical transcriber, and although she always had her suspicions about who took it, she never wanted to point fingers.

"I worked at the hospital and it was payday and the check was in my pocketbook," she explained. "I got some money out of my wallet and went downstairs for a coke and some crackers, and when I came back my wallet was gone."

But even more than the money, it was the sentimental items inside the wallet that Chastain would miss the most.

"There was one picture of me and my son when he was only 3-months-old," Chastain explained. "And one of him leaving the hospital in the same outfit his father wore when he left the hospital. His birth certificate and Social Security card, and my driver's license.

"I wouldn't buy a wallet for a long time, because I didn't want to put all my precious belongings in one place again, just to be easily snatched," she said.

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Despite 23 years having passed, Chastain still lives in the same town and couldn't believe it when she heard a maintenance man had recovered the wallet hidden above the ceiling tiles in the women's restroom of a building only a few miles away from the hospital.

"We don't have a clue how it got there," Chastain said.

"She was really grateful," Chastain's husband, Roger, said. "It was a not so good a deed when someone stole it, but it was returned in an exceptionally good deed when this contractor took the time to return it. So that overrides the negative of it being stolen."

Except for the missing money, all of the other items were still intact.

"I'm just so glad it's back with all my memories in it," said Chastain.

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