Bobby Kapsidis didn’t know what to expect when he started to renovate his mother’s home. The house had been in his family for years, and there was no telling what was hidden behind the dated wood paneling. The possibilities were endless. Termites could be scuttling inside the walls, the carpet could be covering beautiful hardwood floors... or maybe, as Bobby discovered for himself, actual treasures from a time gone by could be nestled in the ceiling...
It’s reno time
Bobby and his wife, Megan, had traveled from their home in Sierra Vista, Arizona, all the way to balmy Holiday, Florida. And while the couple had purchased the old home in 2009, they didn’t start on any updates until the summer of 2017.
Yep, the house spent eight long years gathering cobwebs and who knows what else in its walls.
Home transformation begins
But Megan was excited for the work she and Bobby had ahead of them. “Finally, in Florida and working on our house!” she wrote on Facebook.
Though they’d been married for a while, this was the first big project the two were embarking on together as a couple. Megan probably couldn’t wait to make new memories in the home.
Along with giving the entire house a fresh coat of paint, Bobby and Megan also wanted to remove an unsightly soffit in the kitchen.
This feature sometimes covers up ductwork or is added as an aesthetic detail to spice up a space, but Bobby and Megan were eager to see their soffit go.
Covered in dust
Luckily for the couple, the soffit wasn’t holding anything super important. Using an electric saw, Bobby cut into the ugly board, then hacked away at it with a crowbar.
And a lot of dust and debris may have fallen around him as he worked — perhaps enough for him not to feel the cold air...
A black space
But the more Bobby hacked away, the more was revealed. And when he cleared away the dust, he may have been shocked by what he saw: an opening.
Above him was a dark space, barely big enough for him to push his head through.
Shapes in the dark
Bobby had accidentally hacked into the home’s hidden attic space. He bravely peered into the black opening and was able to make out a few lumpy shapes in the dark.
Before he could figure out what they were, however, one of them plopped right out from the attic to the ground below.
“It hit him right in the face,” Megan told Today in 2017. Fortunately for Bobby, it wasn’t a long-forgotten weight set that fell on him.
It was lightweight, medium-sized, covered in dust, and bright purple.
Smacked in the face
“Bobby really wanted to tear down the soffit at 8 o’clock at night, and I couldn’t stop him,” Megan told her Facebook friends.
It's a good thing she didn’t, or there’s a chance he never would’ve been smacked in the face by a vintage alligator purse.
Ugly fashion statement
The bag was an antique but not an elegant one. Instead of just using the skin to make a traditional purse, the designer had added a stuffed baby alligator on the front.
It was a wacky item, for sure, and Bobby and Megan couldn’t help but open it up.
After examining the purse, the couple discovered that it actually hailed from Cuba. And while the bag itself was empty, their curiosity was piqued.
There had to be more items hidden in the small attic room, and Bobby was determined to find them.
“Stuff just keeps falling from our ceiling!” Megan wrote on Facebook. Then she revealed the biggest find of the night.
“Now it’s someone’s wedding album!” That’s right. A previous tenant had decided to store their wedding album in the attic and had seemingly forgotten about it.
Nostalgic and forgotten
“I reached in the insulation, and I pulled out this wedding book,” Bobby said to ABC News in 2017. “It’s old and kind of dusty, and I said, ‘This is pretty incredible’ — just seeing something nostalgic like that.
I have no idea why they’d keep it up in the attic.” The young married couple flipped through the album.
The wedding appeared to have taken place in the ’60s and had been very traditionally romantic. “My first reaction was, ‘Wow, what a beautiful wedding,’” Megan added to ABC News.
“I sat looking through [the album] and thought, ‘We need to find these people.’”
Finding the owners
“I would love to return it to the family. I’d like to sit down and give them back their memories.
We got married five years ago, and all our photos are digital,” Megan added. “In 1963 they didn’t have digital photos. This book is all they had, and I want to get it back to them for that reason.”
Getting the deets
Bobby and Megan searched the home for clues about one of the previous owners, but they came up empty. The only information about the married couple came from one of their old wedding invitations.
At least that meant Megan and Bobby knew their names...
The pair in question were Marguerite and Joseph Gargiulo, and they had married on September 14, 1963, at the St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Queens.
According to the invitation, their reception had been at the Senior Petty Officers Mess at Brooklyn’s New York Naval Shipyard. With this info in tow, Megan started her search.
Find the couple
Megan also shared her amazing find on Facebook, hoping to connect with the original couple. Then news outlets picked up on the story, spreading it across the United States.
After so much exposure, Megan and Bobby may have been optimistic about locating Marguerite and Joseph.
Reconnecting with the bride
Thankfully, that summer, Megan connected with Marguerite. She returned the woman’s beautiful wedding album and the alligator handbag, too.
But, best of all, Megan got to hear more details about her wedding day — things she never could’ve learned from a photo album.
As it turned out, Joseph had passed away nine years after the wedding. And while Marguerite ultimately married again, she had never known what to do with that first album.
“She is the sweetest lady, and both of us were very emotional, reminiscing about her wedding day,” Megan wrote. It was a bittersweet moment, and Marguerite had a bigger impact on Megan than she knew.
“This has been a very humbling experience for both Bobby and me, and we will never forget it. Thank you, Marguerite, for sharing your memories with us, and we look forward to future visits with you,” Megan wrote on her Facebook profile.
Yep, Bobby accidentally cutting into the attic had ended up changing their lives forever...
With the items returned, Bobby and Megan continued on with the renovation, hopefully leaving behind a token of their own for a future generation to find. And another family also found a thrilling prize in their attic left behind by a late relative.
But rather than crack into the floorboards as Bobby had done the soffit, they called in an expert: treasure hunter Keith Willes.
Years of searching
As Willie confesses on his YouTube channel RediscoverLost, “hidden treasure” is usually little more than a box of old family photos. Though this find was far more intriguing.
Also, it solved a mystery that had mystified the home’s owners for decades. This was, in fact, the box that they had spent years searching for!
It’s a container that had remained elusive to the unnamed family – despite numerous attempts to locate it. Yet according to the Daily Mail, other members of the clan had found similar containers in their own homes.
And they weren’t about to let this house go without one last effort to find it.
Scouring the attic
In the YouTube video created by metal detectorist and treasure hunter Wille, you can see clear damage in the attic which marks other failed attempts to locate the box. Carpenters and construction contractors had previously been hired to help the family in their search, but it was all to no avail.
As a result, they called in Wille to help find any potential items before they let the house and its presumed contents go for good.
The treasure hunter
Wille is a man who has harbored a fascination for hidden treasure since adolescence. As he describes on his website, “Treasure hunting started for me when I was in my early teens.
I frequently listened to family members discuss 19th century silver dollars lost behind the walls of my grandparent’s 80-year-old home.”
Trapped silver dollars
Though the silver dollars remained elusive to anyone who tried to find them. Wille recalls, “Multiple family members made attempts to recover the treasure – including hammering and chiseling access holes through the thick concrete walls of the basement.
Devices were even constructed to reach over the wall but to no avail.” The then-teenager, however, wouldn’t be beaten.
His first treasure
Wille continues, “All it really took to recover the lost treasure was a 13-year-old kid, some detective work to figure out exactly where the best access point was, a circular saw to cut through the closet floor above the hidden room, and my grandmother’s 10-foot curtain rod with a large spoon taped to the end of it to scoop out the coin roll.
I [had] found my first treasure!”
A valuable skill
Wille’s family weren’t impressed with the mess he’d made of the floor, but his treasure hunt ignited a passion that lasted into adulthood. With a little sleuthing and the correct equipment, Wille loves reuniting owners with their lost items.
And it’s a skill he’s utilized with some success over the years, as testimonials on his website confirm.
Ring in the water
Among the treasure hunter’s success stories include a diamond and sapphire ring dating back to the 1910s. Its owner had apparently been taking a dip in the waters off of Eastern Point Beach in Groton, Connecticut, when the piece slipped off in waist-deep water.
But with Wille’s expertise, the eight-carat item was located and reunited with its grateful owner.
Wedding band in the snow
Wille’s website cites another successful reunion which came one winter in Bethel, Connecticut, when a dad was sledding with his daughter. He only noticed the wedding band come off his finger with the unmistakable sound of metal clinking as it bounced off the frame of the sleigh.
But this wasn’t your typical gold ring – it represented a lot more than his marriage.
Wille saves the day
This particular adornment was actually custom made and couldn’t be easily replaced. It was a Claddagh ring – a centuries-old design that signified the owner’s Irish heritage as well as the love and loyalty represented by clasping hands and a crowned heart.
But with his trusty metal detector, Wille was able to locate the precious piece in no time.
Locating bits of history
Clearly, many of the Connecticut-based treasure hunter’s searches involve lost jewelry. Though occasionally, other valuables may also be involved.
According to Wille’s website, one time he was called to an estate in Ridgefield, Connecticut, to help locate some missing bars of silver estimated to be worth $8,000 each. That hunt apparently related to a Cold War fallout shelter dating back more than half a century.
Wille says that he scoured the land for a potential hiding place and examined concrete walls for signs of the valuable silver bars. Every inch of the house, its associated outbuildings and land was explored.
Sadly, the metal detectorist was unable to locate the hidden treasure on that occasion, but he did unearth some other interesting artifacts on the property.
The home’s owner recalled a stone wall his father had built containing a time capsule. And with his trusty metal detector, Wille confirmed that something lay inside its construction.
Gradually chipping away at the stone, he revealed a hidden compartment concealed by wooden planks. After stripping the planks away, Wille then pulled out several containers wrapped in plastic.
Searching the chamber
“As we pulled the contents out one by one, it became obvious that these items were not heavy enough to contain the valuable precious metal hidden many decades ago,” Wille recalls on his website.
“Starting to lose hope, we were now reaching into the bottom of the stone chamber, where one final piece of the time capsule remained.”
Wille ended up pulling a cache of survival goods from the stone wall’s hidden compartment. Along with non-perishable food in the form of two canisters each of wheat germ and beans, the time capsule contained hats, mittens, a Bible, pocket knife, two handguns and plenty of ammunition.
The treasure hunter was confident, though, that there was no silver on the property.
A grandfather's secret
Wille clearly has a reputation for locating objects that others can’t find. And it’s in this context that an anonymous family in Massachusetts called on his services.
They believed that their grandfather had stashed something valuable in the walls of his home. That house had been left to a relative after he and his wife had passed away. But when the recipient’s daughter decided to sell, she wasn’t content to do so without looking for the treasure first.
Family maintained hope
The Daily Mail notes that multiple attempts had been made to locate the hidden bounty. Contractors had been called, floorboards ripped up and the attic turned inside out to try and find it.
But all searches had been unsuccessful – despite success in similar searches in other homes owned by relatives. The family figured that if the treasure existed here, then it was likely to be hidden among insulation.
Racing against a deadline
“The family was running out of time,” Wille explains in the YouTube video documenting his search. “They were wanting to sell the house for a few years, but this rumored treasure was stopping them from doing so.”
So, the metal detectorist employed every tactic in his years of experience and set about locating the hidden valuables.
Every nook and cranny
“Most of the hints and clues we had turned out not to be true,” Wille says of his quest to locate what’s hiding in the property. “I am constantly looking beyond the information I have, looking for things that are slightly out of place, investigating, moving on to the next one.”
And where the family searched for years, the treasure hunter took around an hour.
Followed the clues
In the YouTube video, Wille starts his search where others had gone before. He is seen examining floorboards – looking for any clues previous hunters might have missed or overlooked.
The expert says in his clip, “I eventually got started and turned on my metal detector and started where the two windows intersected.” The treasure hunter apparently took this approach based on information given to him by the homeowner.
Debunked the rumors
“There was a rumor that you [could] see light shine through the floorboard and it was reflecting off the box,” Wille says in his video. But that turned out to be a misconception; every part of the attic that set off his metal detector was an area that had previously been checked over.
Anyway, his own search continues in other corners of the room.
Marking the spots
Wille then devises a more methodical system to locate the goods. He explains, “Basically my plan was to – if I got a good signal – mark it on the floor with a crayon and then come back, drill a hole, drop my endoscope camera down into the floor and check out what the signal was.”
And soon enough, something piques his interest.
Camera view under the floorboards
While examining one corner of the attic, Wille picks up a signal that suggests he is close to finding something. After taking a closer look with a flashlight, the expert drops his endoscope into the hole he’s drilled into the floorboards for a more thorough inspection.
At first, though, Wille doesn’t understand what he is looking at.
Spotted something curious
Wille describes in his YouTube video, “When I dropped it into probably the second or third hole, I saw something weird. It had letters and numbers on it.
I realized after I focused on it, ‘Oh man, this is a keyhole.’ So, I zoomed out a little bit and realized, ‘Oh this is a box; this is a lock box.’”
A heavy lockbox
The container is heavier than the treasure hunter expected as he lifts it up from the floor. Whoever put the item there had clearly been determined to keep it a secret.
In fact, the box was obscured with wood so it wouldn’t be spotted between the floorboards. Anyway, the metal detectorist gently shakes it and you can hear a dull thud.
Cracking open the lid
Since no one had a key for the box, Wille can be seen in the video punching the hinges open with a hammer rather than damage the lock. As he prizes open the lid, everyone stands in shock.
They can’t quite believe what they are seeing! Wille says, “Oh look at that; I see 20s and I see 10s.” Then the treasure hunter exclaims, “They’re $5,000 bricks. It’s marked $5,000.”
Packed to the brim
In a later blog post on his website, Wille described the box as being “packed to the lid” with cash. He said, “All denominations were in the bundles, and individual bills were dated 1934, 1935 and 1950.
The date ‘December 19, 1958,’ along with the teller number, was stamped on each currency strap.” And the bills looked to be in pristine condition. But that’s not all.
As well as brimming with money, the box contains two bundles of silver certificates dated 1935. While they’re no longer recognized as legal tender, financial website Motley Fool reckons they’d be worth “a small premium over face value” to the right collector.
In this case, that would be around $1,000 for both stacks.
A life-changing fortune
In all, the box contained $46,000 secured with the bank straps in which they were first bound in the 1950s, according to the TV station WFSB. That’s the equivalent of just over $420,000 today! Wille said, “I think we were all in shock.”
The family was undecided about what to do with their new fortune. For Willie, it was another success story to add to his resume.