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A Jehovah's Witnesses Woman Returns Purse with MU Student's Tuition

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Sherry Blake found a purse containing $2,500 in the trash outside her apartment complex on Charleston's East End and made it her business to get the purse back to the rightful owner, who had been robbed at gunpoint earlier the same day.

Article Source: http://sundaygazettemail.com/News/201008120760

Woman returns purse with MU student's tuition

The Charleston Gazette August 12, 2010

Woman returns purse with MU student's tuition

By Kathryn Gregory The Charleston Gazette

Sherry Blake found a purse containing $2,500 in the trash outside her apartment complex on Charleston's East End and made it her business to get the purse back to the rightful owner, who had been robbed at gunpoint earlier the same day.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One stranger's kindness and honesty has turned an armed robbery nightmare into a story with a happy ending.

Sherry Blake was standing in front of her apartment building on Charleston's East End at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 27, watching garbage men take away the trash. "I had put some heavy rusted metal in the bag and I was worried the garbage man might get injured," she said. Blake watched the men pick up the heavy bag and throw it in the truck, then reach down and grab a purse, which had been sandwiched between trash bags at the curb. "He picked up and it looked like he was going to throw it in the truck when he noticed it was really heavy," she said. "He opened up the purse and saw that there was a wallet and ID."

When Blake saw the ID, she realized the purse hadn't been intended for the trash. "I told the man to give it to me and I'd make it my business to make sure it got back to the rightful owner," she said. "He was a little reluctant to hand it over, but I pulled out my grandma voice and he gave it to me. "He knew I meant business."

Blake, a devout Jehovah's Witness, brought the purse into her apartment on McClung Street and started going through it, looking for a telephone number or a cell phone she could call to let the owner know she had found her purse.

Blake found a class schedule with Tiffany Workman's name and a cell phone number. She left a message with the 19-year-old Marshall University student saying she had found the purse, then kept rifling through the bag to find anything else that might help her get it back to its rightful owner. Blake was shocked when she got to the bottom of the purse.

"I saw a thick envelope with $100 bills sticking out all over the place," she said. "That is when I called the police. I knew someone official had to take a look at this." A few minutes later, Kanawha County Sheriff's Detective Sean Snuffer called Blake, asking her about the message she left on the cell phone. Workman, a newlywed, and her husband hadn't picked up when Blake called because the couple had been filing a report about the missing purse and money that had been stolen from Workman during an armed robbery earlier that day.

Workman and her husband had just sold their car and were heading to Charleston to buy a new one the morning of July 27 when she was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort in Nitro.

Workman, who was not old enough to be in the casino, waited in the car while her husband tried his luck with $50. At 9:30 a.m., a woman walked up to Workman's car, brandished a handgun and took her purse, including $2,500 she just got from selling her car, according to the sheriff's department.

Police say the suspect, Ashli Logan Burdette, 26, of Campbells Creek, made off with Workman's bag and got into a silver 2000 Dodge Stratus. "It was very scary. She had a gun, a real gun. It was something you see in the movies, but you never expect it to happen to you," Workman said. Workman was able to get the suspect's license plate, and police were able to track her down hours later at a friend's apartment in Cross Lanes. Burdette was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery. She is currently being held in the South Central Regional Jail. Workman was "a wreck" after the robbery because the money "was all we had for a new car and for school. I was really sad. I thought I was not going to be able to go to school next semester."

Workman said the hours right after the robbery were the worst. "[The suspect] went to the bank and used my ID and pretended to be me. She withdrew all of the money from my and my husband's savings account," Workman said. "But she is the dumbest criminal ever. The cash was right in front of her in the same amount. She didn't even look through my purse." Between the emptying of her account and the money in her purse, Workman and her husband were out more than $5,000. Fortunately, her bank refunded the money, and with Blake returning the cash, the couple could breathe easy.

"I couldn't believe it went back to normal so quick," she said. "I just thank God that I am alive and I am so thankful to Ms. Blake for her help. She is like a guardian angel." But Blake said the credit shouldn't go to her for the act since she was just "doing the right thing" through what she had been taught by her faith. "We're told in the Bible that you return things that are lost," she said. "It's just what you do." Even so, Workman said she would never forget Blake and what she did for her.

"I want to thank her so much. It's hard to believe someone would do that. I am so thankful she is the one who found it," Workman said, adding that she plans to take Blake out to dinner to show her gratitude.


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Nice story. One year, when my kids were young, after the convention that day, we went to a mall and looked around. Then we went to Friendly's for dinner. About the time we were finishing up dinner the fire alarm went off and the mall was evacuated. We waited until it was safe to go back in, (false alarm, fortunately) went back to Friendly's, and paid our bill (including tip, of course). The waitress was shocked. She remembered us and said we were the ONLY ones who did that. Not one of the other customers came back to pay their bill. My hubby explained we were JW's there for the convention and about Jeh's laws about honesty. Hopefully, we made an impression.

Get more exercise....walk with Jehovah!

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