Dave Lacey met his wife Erica through work. The two of them became fast friends, and a year later the friendship turned romantic.
Erica and Dave got engaged and were ready to spend the rest of their lives together. Little did they know that Erica’s life would end much sooner than she could imagine.
As the wedding approached, Erica began to feel ill and have chest pains. She went to the doctor to see what was wrong when her symptoms persisted.
After a CT scan, doctors saw a tumor near Erica’s heart and another behind her diaphragm. She was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma just days before her wedding.
Erica had to undergo chemotherapy immediately after the diagnosis. She was advised that she should cancel her wedding, but the couple wouldn’t hear it.
They got married while Erica was going through chemotherapy. Erica’s only worry was that the wedding photos may be tainted if her bandage was too visible.
Erica lived for two more years after her diagnosis. The couple cherished every moment they had together.
Before her death, Erica became extremely interested in photography. She took her camera everywhere, and documented the moments she wanted to live on.
At the time of Erica’s death, her camera was full. There were 300 photos that told the story of the celebration of Erica’s life, including those from her funeral.
Dave didn’t think much about his wife’s camera until about a year later when his house was robbed. The burglars stole a list of valuables, but the only thing Dave cared about was his wife’s camera.
Dave was convinced that he’d never see those photos again. He hadn’t downloaded them to a computer, meaning the only copies were on the stolen camera.
It’s very difficult to retrieve stolen items from a home burglary. There was little hope of Dave’s items being returned until police found a link in another robbery.
Detectives Paul McClaskey and Jerry Verdugo arrested Dave Aguilar in relation to the theft of a computer. They found multiple pawn shop receipts and went to take a look at the store.
Most everything the police found at the store couldn’t be linked to anyone. Only a Canon camera gave them any clues.
Verdugo recalled being angry at the theft as he looked through the camera. He saw the story of a young wife dying and was outraged that someone had stolen such a sentimental item.
There was nothing to link the camera to its original owner other than a unique wall that the detectives recognized. They went to the area and started asking around.
Eventually they were informed of a robbery victim in the neighborhood. The detectives found Dave in his home and reunited him with his lost camera.
Without the tenacious dedication of these two detectives, Dave’s photos of his wife’s life may have been lost forever. Now, Dave can look at these pictures and remember what a beautiful life his wife had lived.
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