Thieves Steal Weapon Collection From Oklahoma Veteran On His Death Bed
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - While a disabled Vietnam veteran was in the hospital, dying, someone broke into his home, ransacked everything, and stole his collection of guns and knives.
The family says it was a double blow to lose their loved one on the same day they lost all those memories of him. Now the family is offering a reward.
Otto Penner, Jr. was a United States Marine who served in Vietnam. A bullet to the top of his head put him in the hospital for nine months when he was 20 years old and left him permanently disabled on his left side.
His only child later died in a car wreck. Later, he personally overcame alcoholism, but despite his struggles, Junior's family says he was always helping others.
"There were hard times, but he smiled every day," said cousin Matt Penner.
Junior lived near Oologah and spent time at the local cafe, swapping stories, and at the gun shop, swapping guns, always adding to his collection. His family estimates he had around 80 guns, rifles, shotguns, handguns and 100 knives.
"Anything from a small pocket knife to a large sword," Matt said.
Junior went to the hospital in November and he died from complications related to surgery on November 23. His family had been keeping an eye on his place while visiting him in the VA, and on the day they learned he passed away, they also learned someone had broken into Junior's home.
"We got the call he passed about 15 minutes before the sheriff arrived," Matt said.
The thieves flipped over every mattress, dumped out every drawer and went through every piece of furniture. Then, they got into Junior's shop where he kept his guns and knives.
"The last person to touch these things wasn't him," Matt said.
The family wants the guns back because they don't want them used to harm someone, but mostly because they're all they have left of Junior except for memories.
"We talked everyday. He ate lunch or dinner at my house every weekend," Matt said. "It's gonna suck. It's not gonna be fun. It's hard. My kids miss him. The guns were the link between him and I. It'll be hard, it really will."
The family had documentation for about 30 of the guns and those have been entered in the national crime computer, but they hope gun shops and shows will be aware if someone comes in trying to sell a large collection.
They're offering a $10,000 reward to get the guns back and would love to see someone arrested.
Anyone with information can call the Rogers County Sheriff's Department tip line at 918-341-3620.