Over Christmas vacation last week (Saturday, December 27th, to be exact) my brother-in-law and I went geocaching, for the first time ever. If you’re wondering why we were driving around in a very impressive 2014 Lexus LX, it’s because I review cars here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog, as you see on the tab on the upper left hand side of the screen.
I had never even heard of geocaching before, so my brother-in-law sent me this video to help me understand it:
Basically, it’s using an app on a phone to discover “hidden treasures” by other geocachers. These hidden treasures typically just consist of trinkets or paper log-ins; just to prove you were there. Once you discover the “cache,” you are able to see who else has been there and how long ago. It’s sort of like an ongoing scavenger hunt.
For example, for the 2 caches we actually discovered, we left dog tags with our names and the date written on it in permanent marker.
It’s just a fun, innocent, legal, grass roots, ongoing pick-up game for people like me and my brother-in-law. We just like to get out and explore new territory.
Just to be clear, one of the requirements for a registered geocache spot is that the area has to be approved by whoever owns the land or in a public area.
All across America, there are these registered spots. Even in my small hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama, they are all over the place; and I don’t mean miles apart either. They are pretty close to one another.
One of the spots we decided to try out was at the bottom of Beason’s Gap, created a while back by a man named David Bait.
While dozens of other geocachers had already discovered it, we were unable to actually find the official cache there.
However, I thought I did, at first. As I ventured down the bluff just a little bit, I yelled out to my brother-in-law, “Hey! I think I found it! Come check this out!”
It was a clear, plastic sealed bag. But all that was in it was make-up, including Burt’s Bees chap stick.
However, there was no clue on the app to acknowledging this was the intended find; especially with the make-up bag being left out in the leaves.
Next to the make-up bag was a pair of newer sunglasses, in the case.
And next to it, was the big one: A purse with all official IDs and money removed; the exception being a folded up one dollar bill and an enrollment form for the Spring 2015 semester at Northeast Alabama Community College for a student named Sydney Noelle Pittman.
There was a heart drawn on the next line down, next to the name Cash; so I assume she might be romantically linked to someone with that last name.
I also found inside the purse a key for a Nissan vehicle with the name Gentry written on the tag; as if the vehicle had recently been in the shop.
However, I don’t understand why Gentry would be the name on tag if the girl’s name is Sydney Noelle Pittman.
As you can see in some of these pictures, there were long black hairs attached to some of the findings; which I assume is Sydney’s.
My theory is that at some point in not-so-distant history, Sydney Noelle Pittman had her purse snatched (maybe it was lifted after she sat it down on a counter or table at a restaurant) and the thief removed her credit card, cash, and IDs, then stopped at the pull-off at the end of Beason’s Gap to throw the purse off the bluff.
What that thief didn’t realize is that he or she was disposing of the evidence literally right on top of a geocache hiding spot; not the low-traffic random spot it would appear to non-geocachers.
Then, very innocently, a few days later my brother-in-law and I happened upon it; thinking it was the official cache. Only in hindsight did I really consider that unlike the other abandoned items I saw there on the bluff, Sydney’s belongings were apparently recent and possibly part of a crime scene.
That’s why I waited a few days to report it to the police. I am definitely new to this whole discovering an apparent crime scene thing.
I’m featuring this incident here on my blog because I want to help this girl at least get some closure with what happened.
Most of all, I hope she is alive and well. I already Googled her name, and found nothing, which I suppose is a good sign. After all, I’ve seen enough crime shows to know to look for a body, blood, or at least signs of a struggle; none of which were obviously present.
So in closing, 2 random guys (my brother-in-law and me) happened to be geocaching on Christmas vacation and became the 1st to discover a mysterious purse, which happened to be right where the coordinates pointed us.
I can’t know for sure it was stolen. For all I know she threw it off herself, after removing her money and ID, but that makes no sense to me.
Either way, I reported the mysterious purse to the local police, and within 15 minutes of my call, they had located it and picked it up, thanks to my very specific directions.
I also let the local police know not to be too surprised if they get more call-ins on this spot; since it is a registered geocache spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if more unknowing criminals think they are being clever by tossing their evidence off the bluff; which to guys like me, is instead a geocache site.
Granted, we had a lot of fun aside from potentially help solving a crime, as these other pictures demonstrate.
But the mysterious purse part of the story definitely gives this whole thing an edge. The next time we go geocaching, I’ll be ready for more adventure than what shows up on the phone app.