Earlier this month, a 9-year-old boy wrote a letter to Kansas City police asking whether a 10-year-old boy who found $10,000 in a hotel room last year got to keep the cash.
“I read an article in school,” the Massachusetts boy wrote about the article first published in The Star. “The article made me think about who might find money and keep it.”
It was the second student letter received by Kansas City police in recent months about the treasure-finding lad, Tyler Schaefer, who stumbled upon the neatly stacked bills, still in money wrappers, in a hotel drawer last May 25. An article about the discovery is posted on an educational website as part of a critical-thinking exercise.
“What would you do if you found $10,000?” the website asks students in a question that generated more than 1,000 responses. “Would you give it to police?”
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Many of the students who posted answers online said they would have kept the cash, or at least part of it. But Tyler and his father, Cody Schaefer, of South Dakota, immediately handed all the loot to two uniformed off-duty officers working at the hotel, who filed a police report.
Nearly a year later, the Police Department is still storing the money, per state law. If an owner is not identified after four more years, the department will give the cash to the state treasurer’s office, which will keep it in a trust forever if an owner doesn’t step forward.
A Missouri law written in 1939 outlines the steps finders must take to claim lost cash, including filing an affidavit with a state court judge within 10 days, physically posting a list describing the money on the courthouse door and at four other public places within the city and publishing ads in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks.
Tyler and his father missed the 10-day deadline and didn’t tack posters around town. But they did immediately notify authorities in a selfless act that made national news headlines — generating a much larger audience than any local posters could.
Although they appeared to have met the spirit of the law, they did not meet its letter. Experts say the honest pair won’t get the cash.
Cody Schaefer said Tuesday that he had trouble understanding Missouri’s legalese. He approached a lawyer for help but was told he needed to put up a $1,000 retainer, which he didn’t have.
Police Capt. Tye Grant said the boy deserves the money.
“We wish the law allowed us to give it back to him.”