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An Unwanted Discovery Ends With An FBI Investigation…

A home renovation is supposed to be a big project, and when it involves an older home folks are bound to find little surprises here and there inside the structure of the home, usually architectural. One couple renovating a home built in the 1940s in Cleveland, however, found more than they bargained for. In fact, what started off as an amazing find soon turned into far more than they bargained for, and it ultimately involved the FBI in a full-blown investigation based on what was found in total.

Starting the Demolition

The basement was the first part of the project. The removal of drywall opened up the framework and the typical odd markers and scribblings of construction crews long gone and past their time appeared once again to open light. Like similar projects, the homeowners documented everything as the work continued which ended up being a smart move in hindsight.

Ceiling Surprise

As the drywall was pulled of the ceiling and the support rafters were exposed, the owners started to realize there was more up in the basement ceiling then just wood, cobwebs and dust. In fact, between what had been the ceiling drywall layer and the subfloor for the ground level above, there was in fact a suitcase that had been intentionally hidden in the cavity. The work stopped and the curiosity began. What the heck was suitcase doing in the basement ceiling?

Opening Things Up

The homeowner had completely forgotten about the renovation work. Now everything was about what in the world was inside this suitcase that it needed to be hidden. While waiting for his wife to get home, the husband took the suitcase outside in the open air and light where he could see everything better. The case had substance to it, like the contents were heavy.

A Small Suitcase

The homeowner’s wife came home and the excitement just kept increasing. Playing a game to keep things going, the couple started guessing at what was inside. The husband thought it might be a really valuable collection, like baseball or football cards. The wife wondered if it was a jewelry stash. In terms of value, she was probably closer. So, they got to a point where the guessing was enough and they moved to open the case.

Wrapped Stacks

As they opened the suitcase the couple realized there were brown wax paper packages in the case. However, the packages were more than just trash. They were packaged and prepared carefully, as if someone wanted to make sure the package content was not going to get exposed to moisture, or bugs or similar. Things were starting to get weird and the joking about guessing the suitcase contents were long gone.


The first package was unwrapped and inside exposed money and a lot of it. Each one was stacks of $20 bills. And they weren’t new ones either. The money was extremely old but modern enough that it was still usable. Now the couple were starting to shake. Exactly how much was in this suitcase and what would it total up to? Was it there’s to keep was there more to this story? After all, they bought the house free and clear, including everything inside it.

The Money Kept Counting Up

Now the bundles were changing. The first bundle was $20 bills. The second bundle was $50 and $100 bills. They were now looking at not just hundreds of dollars but thousands dollars in front of them. The couple was now opening the third package which was entirely $100 bills. They were starting to have the proverbial freakout. The details of the suitcases started to matter a whole lot. The couple started looking at not just the money but what came with it. Some of the dollar bills were clearly from the 1920s and early 1930, some of the harshest survival times of the U.S. Depression.

Looking at a Time Capsule

The suitcase was vintage, no question, but what exactly where they dealing with? Clues started to become apparent. The newspaper included in the suitcase gave context and time period. Dated on each page, the newspaper was from March 25, 1951. If everything held the same, the suitcase, its money and anything else associated with it was probably from the same time period, at least 65 years ago.

A Pretty Good Find It Seemed

The couple were looking at a bit of a buried treasure. The dollar bills involved were rare and collector items. And that meant some were worth a heck of a lot more than just their face value. More than a few were mint bills, never used, barely circulated. Almost all of them easily scored well over seven decades. After a few phone calls and some help from a local attorney, the total in the suitcase was nice windfall, $23,000 in total either in face value or collectability. It was a huge, wonderful surprise. They decided pretty quick what they were going to do with the prize – the money would go to pay off their mortgage, letting them own their home free and clear. It seemed like a nice ending, but it wasn’t.

Eventually Back to Work

With the fuss over and the dust settling, it was time to get back to work. The work in the basement was still waiting to be completed. However, the first suitcase the couple found was not the end of the story. There would be more findings in the darn fake basement ceiling. And that guessing game and surprises would continue to keep adding onto each other more and more. What in the world had been going on in this 1940s house before the couple bought the place and moved in.

Suitcase Number 2

The second suitcase was located deeper in the ceiling as the renovation continued and it became apparent and available. Again, the homeowner waited for his wife to get home before opening it up. More photographs documented the whole thing and the suitcases seemed like same make and setup, so the couple naturally assumed more money. It was only logical.

Opening Things Up Again

Sure enough, the second case had a similar windfall. More money in stacks and stacks of bills. This time, however, the money was not carefully wrapped in wax paper bundles. Instead, it was packed tightly bound stacks of bills like it had come straight from a bank. The homeowners started to get a chill on the back of their necks. The straps on the bills packs were official and delineated how much in each stack.

The Money Size Was Out of Control

This time the money counted up to almost more than twice the first suitcase, $45,000 total. Again, the couple was counting their lucky stars. How far was this going to go? Not only did they have the means to pay off the mortgage now with the first bundle, now they had twice as much and the ability to do a whole lot more in a very comfortable retirement. They chose to invest the windfall in their home with even more renovations, but the story was far from over.

A Door That Shouldn’t Be Opened

With two suitcases discovered the couple had a pretty good idea now that their old home had more secrets to show. So now they started looking for them. Sure enough, they found a door, purposefully hidden behind construction and walled off. It never would have been known had it not been for the renovation and tearing off the covers from the walls. The door itself was not anything unique. It seemed to just be a utility closet. Nonetheless, it was a doorway.

Another Opening

Opening the small doorway, the couple peered inside. It was not a utility room. Instead, there was an entire additional room nobody had known was part of the house. Various pieces of carpet had been placed on the floor inside, but it wasn’t professionally installed. It was clearly a hidden room with a purpose, but what that was made no sense whatsoever, at least not immediately.

A Room Behind a Room

The husband entered in first to see what was inside. The area was barely functional and most of the house frame was visible. However, the room turned out to be just a foyer. There was another room deeper inside the home basement, but this one was blocked by a door with a serious set of locks on it. Not only was the outer room hidden, this inner sanctum was clearly intended to be blocked, sealed off and not entered by anyone but the original owner.

Curiosity Killed the Cat?

The husband now wanted to get to the bottom of what the hell was going on, and it was behind this secured second door. The lock was solid, but it only assumed a person was using the door normally. Instead, he took a hammer and started taking the door frame apart. Eventually, the husband was able to disassemble the entire door and get it out of the way. The second room was now open for access.

Going Too Far Down the Rabbit Hole

Immediately the husband knew he had discovered something he wished he hadn’t. The very construction of the inner second room signaled bad karma. The walls were obviously sound-proofed. The surface was tarped as if to make it easy for cleaning. A lot of attention had gone into making this second room functional for a purpose, and it didn’t look like anything good when combined with the money found earlier, being hidden, and from the 1930s. Criminality was becoming obvious.

Find Number 1

An old leather briefcase was inside the second room. Inside it the couple wondered if there was yet more money and more old bills adding to their first two finds. However, three is a charm. Instead, this suitcase was filled with an entirely different set of belongings that had nothing to do with cash.

Watches, Rings & Envelopes

Again, the saving grace for the couple was their diligent documentation of everything they found with photographs. The rooms, the secured door and now the briefcase were all snapped and photographed to explain it all later on when the couple had time to breathe. Opening the suitcase, they found a smorgasbord of vintage jewelry, including men’s watches, rings, silver bars, and envelopes. However, these had cash from other countries versus American dollars.

What’s in the Safe

The room had more to give up. Deeper inside was a small safe. It was a typical, personal type unit sitting in the corner. The husband wasn’t thrilled about the direction that things were going in. This entire experience was getting more and more creepy by the minute.

A Clear Message

The safe also didn’t pose much resistance once the husband got to work. However, the contents inside gave the first signals something was very wrong. First, there was a badly scribbled note with the words “save yourself.” Then, inside the lid of the safe was more writing. In white painted letters the words “Do not” were left. What the hell did that mean? The husband was now seriously freaking out.

Weird Tapes

The safe did not follow the pattern of everything else the couple had found up to this point. Instead, the contents inside the safe were video tapes stored in clear plastic cases. These weren’t cassettes. They were old style VCR tapes that people used for watching movies or videotaping home movies.

Needing Serious Help

There were six video tapes total inside the safe. Five of them were labeled but the sixth was just blank. The labeling made no easy sense to figure out. One said 194 the other said roman number V, and another had 11195 on it and so on. The blank one however was different. It had “No” written with a black marker all over it. The tapes, however, were clearly from the 1980s or later than anything else they had found in the home. The fact that they were in the deepest part of the home was even more mysterious.

Taking a Peek

The couple got out of the basement and brought everything upstairs. For a few days they did nothing, but eventually the husband had to know more. He figured something was on the videotapes that would answer his nagging questions. He still had a VCR himself, so he hooked everything up to a TV and put the first tape in from the six they found in the basement. What he saw was beyond the norm of horrible.

Bring in the Big Guns

As soon as he saw the first scenes the husband wished the whole thing hadn’t happened. He and his wife got on the horn and contacted the FBI. The Feds arrived quickly, took over control of the property and seized everything associated with the tapes. A full investigation was triggered. The local media got wind of the story and started guessing all sorts of stories and potential crimes had occurred in the home, hidden from public eye. However, the details of the case were never disclosed, much less what had been on the tapes. And the homeowners are not talking either, likely instructed by the FBI to stay quiet about the matter.



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