Janet Andy remembers her purse being stolen like it was yesterday.
She was a newlywed, having just married her husband, Paul, in July 1999. Four months later, she went grocery shopping, returned to her home in Franklin Township, and left her car in the driveway, with her purse and her Pepsi forgotten on the roof.
A little while later, she went to get her purse and noticed it was gone. A search of the nearby wooded area didn't turn it up.
But 13 years later, the new owners of Diggers in Kent called her to say they'd been doing some remodeling. Employee Bruce Bentley started his work in the men's room, and noticed a surprise while removing ceiling tiles.
"Two beer bottles were up there," he said. "One hit me in the shoulder and fell on the floor and broke. And then I saw the wallet."
Andy and her wallet were reunited Friday after owners Bert and Robin Bellinson consulted first the phone book, and then the internet, to find Andy. It wasn't an easy task since, having just gotten married, she had some cards that listed her name as Janet Andy and others listing her as Marek. The new bride planned to replace them as they expired.
Robin Bellinson said a search of the phone book turned up nobody named Marek. Facebook turned up 34 people with her name. She finally consulted the Ohio Board of Nursing's online verification page, since a nursing license was in the wallet.
That site confirmed Andy's status as a registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner. She was the only nurse named Janet who lives in Kent, she said.
Besides her nursing license, Andy reclaimed various expired store credit cards, shopping cards for area stores, a handful of personal photos, and an expired driver's license. Also inside was her Social Security card, along with two forms of identification that listed the number, and a checkbook. The last deposit was Nov. 15, 1999, and a debit card was accompanied by two receipts from September of that year.
The thief helped himself to the $30 or so in cash inside the wallet, and Andy's Visa card.
The Bellinsons and Andys surmise that the thief discarded the purse and took the wallet into the men's room. After removing the cash and credit card, he hid the wallet in the ceiling, wedging it in place with the beer bottles. Nobody is sure why the thief didn't just throw the wallet in the trash can, but suspect he might have feared being detected through fingerprints.
Paul Andy said he and his wife had been regular customers at Diggers in the months and years since.
"Who knew it was over my head all that time?" he said.
Janet Andy said the aftermath was a nightmare.
"I had no driver's license, no Social Security card, no checkbook and no credit cards," she said.
Her employer, Dr. T. Kulasekaran of Akron Pediatric Neurology, gave her money until her bank situation was straightened out.
The Bellinsons bought the business in January from original owners Sue and Dave Helmling. They are starting a renovation, and eventually plan to change the name of the eatery. They wondered aloud if they'd find the purse when they start renovation of the women's restroom.
Janet Andy expressed hope that the thief will come forward to explain the mystery and why he didn't just toss the wallet in the trash. Even if she wanted to press charges, it is too late to do so.
"We just want to know what really happened," she said.
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