Jewelry Theft Reunites McAlester Woman With Father's Photo

Thursday, September 24th 2015, 8:27 pm
By: Tess Maune

An old locket links two teenagers to a McAlester burglary; but it wasn't the locket itself that helped crack the case, it was what was inside.

Life in the country is the only way to live, 82-year-old Norma Hackler said.

“Quiet and peaceful,” she said while laughing. “We used to have cows, and chickens, and, you name it.”

The animals are now gone, and Hackler has lived on the farm alone since her husband passed away six years ago. But she has never felt unsafe; her daughter lives across the street, and she has plenty of good neighbors for security.

“Yeah, we look out for each other around here,” Hackler said.

And it's a good thing too, because earlier this week, the elderly woman was burglarized. She said one of the suspected thieves actually knocked on her door Tuesday morning before stealing from her - he told her he had the wrong house and left.

“I bet he wasn't over 16 years old if was that old,” she said. “He was real clean cut and everything. Lot of people has come up here and asked for directions, so I didn't think anything about it.”

Not long after the young man left, Hackler also left to run an errand.

Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns said the teenager and a friend were watching and went back to Hackler’s house. Kerns said a neighbor noticed two suspicious people and confronted them.

When the two drove off, the neighbor called 911.

“I would never dream that I would ever be robbed. I didn't have nothing, so why would anyone come in my house,” Hackler asked.

When she returned home from her errand, deputies, family and neighbors were in her front yard.

“I said, 'What's happening?' And [they] says, 'You've been robbed.' I says, 'You're kidding!' Then I says, 'They didn't get my power chair and TV did they?' Everyone thought that was funny. That's the only thing important I have in here,” she said laughing.

Both of those prized possessions were untouched, but the teenagers did get into her jewelry box.

“It wasn't real expensive jewelry, probably $35 a deal, but that was expensive back then,” Hackler said.

In town, a ‘be on the lookout’ alert had gone over the scanners.

“We was just traveling at the right part of the highway to actually shut these people down,” Kerns said.

He said he and his undersheriff passed the suspected thieves on Highway 69 in McAlester. They turned around to stop the teens.

“He sped up away from us enough to dump out whatever they took from the house,” the sheriff said.

Kerns said the teen - 16 and 17 years old - tossed what they'd taken into a ditch. The sheriff found them, photographed them and took them back to his office.

One of the items was a locket that Hackler had forgotten all about.

When a deputy opened the locket, he found a faded picture inside. He took a cell phone picture of the photo and texted it to the officer who was still at Hackler's house.

“He said, ‘Do you recognize that picture in that locket?' I said, 'Yeah that's my dad,'” Hackler said with a big smile on her face. “All these years. Strange.”

Hackler said she bought the necklace more than 50 years ago. She didn't remember it opened and certainly didn't recall her dad's picture was inside, probably because she has long kept the memories of her father locked inside her heart.

“I'll never forget mom and dad’s face,” she said. “You never forget that.”

The locket will be kept as evidence, for the time-being, but Hackler looks forward to getting it back home soon.

“I might just go ahead and start wearing it again,” she said.

The sheriff said one of the teens is on house arrest and the other is in a juvenile detention center. He said both teens are suspects in other area burglaries.