Lifestyle & Human Interest

Unbelievable: Family Discovers Hidden Treasure Inside World War I Torpedo


You never know what you’re going to find when you offer to help clean out someone’s home. It’s a terribly intimate thing to sift through an entire lifetime of belongings and observe the state things are kept in, but two women got the surprise of their lives this month when they uncovered a torpedo in the back of a closet.

Melody Atwood and her sister were in Lansing, Michigan, cleaning out their aunt’s house on Saturday. Their aunt was now living in assisted care, and the two women were working hard to get her former house in order.

“My aunt has dementia and we’ve moved her into a nursing home where she will be from now on,” Melody told WTHR-TV. “The lady was a collector.”

Melody’s sister came face-to-face with one of those collected items and quickly called Melody to come and look.

“She called down, ‘Mel, we got a problem,'” Melody recalled. “Tucked way in the back was what looked like a torpedo.”

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Not interested in taking any more risk than necessary, and not quite sure what their eclectic aunt might have stowed away, the sisters called the Lansing Police.

“The police didn’t know if the mortar shell was live or not so they called the bomb squad in and asked us to leave the home,” Melody continued.

The object was identified as a World War I-era torpedo, and the Michigan State Police Bomb Squad arrived to deal with the weapon of unknown status.

The bomb squad safely removed the torpedo and took it in for analysis — and had their unexpected answer within the day.

“They photographed and did X-rays of it,” Melody said. “Later Saturday evening, MSP called me back and said, ‘You won’t believe what’s inside.'”

“There were several silver certificate banknotes, many dating back to the early 1900s. Many silver dollars, Buffalo nickels and old dimes.”

It was an interesting (and relieving) find for all parties involved, and the bomb squad held onto the torpedo and the sisters were given the old money.

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“MSP Bomb Squad assisted @LansingPolice over the weekend at a residence,” MSP First District tweeted Monday. “Subjects cleaning out a family members house came across what they believed to be a live ammunition round and called police. Bomb squad conducted an x-ray and determined the round was not live.

“Upon further examination, it was discovered this was a WW1 round containing a hidden treasure of coins and bills ranging from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. The non-live round was turned over to the bomb squad and treasure left with family.”

Melody said the plan is to find a buyer who will pay a fair price and use the money to help pay for their aunt’s care. In the meantime, though, it was a memorable find.

“I’ve seen old money before, but nothing like this,” Melody said. “It’s just fun looking at it all.

“I think the moral of this story is while cleaning out old homes, be patient and always look in dark places.”

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