TROWBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - Allegan County deputies have returned some stolen video and photographs to the father of an Afghanistan War veteran, killed in a car crash.
"I got a call from the Allegan Sheriff's Department telling me they have my camera," says Joe Courtney. "As soon as they said that, I started crying."
We told you the story of the break-in at Joseph Courtney's residence in November. Courtney says he was heartbroken when thieves took cameras and tapes with images of his dead son Gregory during the burglary at his home in Trowbridge Township.
About a month after returning from the combat zone in 2011, 22-year-old Gregory Courtney was killed after he lost control and crashed his car.
His father says the stolen memories were irreplaceable.
"It was memories from him coming home from Afghanistan, pictures, that kind of good stuff," he explains. "When I got the call from the deputy, I was just amazed."
Deputies say they discovered Courtney's stolen video camera and tapes while investigating suspects in another crime.
Courtney says detectives told him the thieves still had his stolen property because of all the publicity about the burglary at his home; they were afraid to try and sell the memories of a dead Marine's father.
"[It] put a scare into them," he says. "They didn't go out and try to sell the stuff like they normally would have done."
A digital camera holding about 3,000 photos and some other items are still missing. Courtney says he is hopeful they will also be returned, but he is grateful for what he has.
"It's great," he says. "I didn't think it was going to happen. I just figured I would have to get used to it. I don't have enough to thank everybody."
Allegan County deputies have not yet identified any suspects in the burglary.