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The Right Thing to do: Boy Finds and Returns Backpack Stuffed With Cash
Foster's Daily Democrat ^ | Thursday, May 7, 2009 | ADAM D. KRAUSS

Posted on 05/11/2009 12:47:43 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Before a woman who "lost everything" in an Alton fire last year learned a 10-year-old found more than $8,000 of her money, Arie Johnston had to defy his grandmother's orders.

The drama unfolded Saturday, when the Garrison School student from Dover was in Alton again helping his grandmother, Nancy Merrill, and the town with its annual roadside cleanup.

"We were out there picking up debris, rubbish, whatever," she said.

And as Arie went about his work he spotted a bag across the street. He wanted to check it out, but his grandmother wasn't having any of it.

"I'm yelling at him to get back over where it's safe," Merrill recalled.

Of course, he checked it out anyway — but not before making sure no cars were coming, he said.

There on the other side of the road, next to a guardrail, Arie found what police described as a "practically burned backpack" with a wad of cash sticking out of it — $8,160 to be exact.

"He said, 'Gram, Gram, come check this out," Merrill said.

Arie said he was shocked at his discovery.

"It was $100 bills, $50 bills and $20 bills," he said during a break at school Wednesday. "Most of it was $100 bills."

At first, Arie let his imagination run wild.

"I thought somebody had killed someone for the money because I figured I would never see almost $10,000 laying on the side of the road," he said, sitting on a conference room chair, his feet barely touching the ground.

"Of course being a little guy he was taken aback," Merrill said by phone.

Back at the scene, Arie's grandmother called out to the town clerk, who knew the owner based on the Iranian and American passports and other documents found inside the bag.

It turns out the woman, Parvin Jannati, was living in a home that was heavily damaged in a two-alarm fire last October — the same 370 Main St. dwelling that one of Johnston's great-grandfathers had built years ago.

His grandmother confirmed the home near Alton Bay was built by Arie's great-great-great-grandfather Jonathan Downing in 1885.

Police have declined to comment on the case beyond what was included in a short news release, including whether they are investigating anything to do with the money.

"We have no idea why that much money would be in a bag," Merrill said.

Police said Jannati, who has since moved to Maine, asked that her belongings be given to her sister, Parvaneh Anderson, who Merrill said owns Marrakech Hair Salon on Main Street in Alton.

Merrill said she spoke with Anderson, who said her sister was visiting their mother. Anderson did not return a message seeking comment.

Arie enjoyed an afternoon of go-carts the day after the discovery and Merrill said a reward from Jannati's sister may be coming.

Arie, who enjoyed a sort of celebrity status at school Wednesday after friends caught TV news reports on WMUR, said he heard Jannati "lost everything" in the fire, which didn't cause injuries.

The boy's honesty didn't surprise his mother, April Everngam, who described him as a "very good helper" and "the type of kid that notices things others don't."

Once, when he was 4, he found a neighbor's dog wandering and walked it to its home, she said.

Arie's grandmother said she also wasn't surprised by his instinct to share his discovery instead of pocketing it — something he said he never considered.

"Civic duty, honesty, integrity" — that's Merrill's motto.

Seems to be rubbing off.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Miscellaneous; Society
KEYWORDS: integrity

1 posted on 05/11/2009 12:47:43 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

God will bless you, son .... watch for it.


2 posted on 05/11/2009 12:52:16 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: nickcarraway

I’m surprised the cops didn’t confiscate the money.


3 posted on 05/11/2009 12:53:31 PM PDT by MistrX
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To: nickcarraway

I’m surprised the cops didn’t confiscate the money.


4 posted on 05/11/2009 12:53:32 PM PDT by MistrX
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To: MistrX

Exactly what I was thinking.

Had to be a drug dealer, cuz nobody would use cash nowadays.
Right?


5 posted on 05/11/2009 1:06:24 PM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: MistrX

zero will be taking all finds in the near future.


6 posted on 05/11/2009 1:09:52 PM PDT by blf1776 (Peepole, Peepole who need Peepole, are the luckiest Peepole in the world)
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To: SJSAMPLE

Not necessarily. Recent immigrants are often confused by the banking system, having relied on cash in the countries they came from, where banks were unreliable and/or inaccessible. It would be interesting to know, however, whether she had reported the missing cash at the time of the fire, since she certainly would have had contact with police at the time. If she hadn’t mentioned the cash to police, then I’d be suspicious.


7 posted on 05/11/2009 8:18:43 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: SJSAMPLE

S-A-R-C-A-S-M


8 posted on 05/12/2009 5:07:03 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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