A Fort Worth man said it "felt beautiful" to be reunited with his stolen 1943 vintage guitar after police tracked it 4,479 miles away – all the way to Ireland.
Daniel Massey, a preacher and retired General Motors worker, returned from an extended trip in early December to learn someone had broken in to his East Fort Worth home.
Among the items taken was a Gibson guitar his mother passed on to him when she died about 10 years ago.
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"When I did notice that it was gone, my heart sank, because actually the guitar had more value and meant more to me than anything else that was taken," Massey said Thursday.
A Fort Worth police detective tracked some of Massey's stolen items to a pawn shop and arrested two alleged burglars.
But the guitar was gone. It had already been sold on eBay.
The man who bought it was in Dublin, Ireland.
Detectives didn't give up.
They sent a letter to the Irishman who unknowingly bought the stolen guitar. They included a photo of Massey's mother holding it to explain the sentimental value.
Massey, a preacher, said he wasn't sure he would ever see it again.
"You talk about really challenging my faith," he said. "I said, 'If it gets over the pond, will I ever see it again?' That's what I'm thinking, you know?"
Then, Massey got an unexpected phone call.
It was from a strange number and he let it go to voicemail.
"Hello Daniel, my name is Owen McQuail," the caller said. "I seem to be in possession of your 1943 Gibson … We'll sort all this out when I talk to you, OK?"
"(He is) a prince of a man," Massey said. "And I said, 'God, there are still people with morals who will do the right thing.'"
After a couple voicemails, the two strangers finally talked.
"I said, 'Sir, you've got quite an accent.' He said, 'And you have quite a one yourself,'" Massey said.
McQuail agreed to ship the guitar back and just asked to be reimbursed for the shipping costs.
Massey picked up the guitar at the police station.
"Oh, it felt beautiful," Massey said. "But more than just the instrument itself, what flashed back was all the memories that I remember of that guitar and who possessed it."
Massey told the stranger he'd like to thank him face to face and maybe even meet him in Ireland one day.
"He said, 'Well, that would be fine, Daniel. Maybe you can buy me a cup of coffee.'"
Police said they were grateful it all worked out.
"If he had not agreed to send it back, who knows what would have happened to it," said Officer Tamara Valle. "It's so far away."