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Thief returns Jesse James stolen plaque

“Before he had broken in, he contacted my son and me on the front porch and took his t-shirt off and showed us his tattoo," said Chilcote.

Posted: Dec 7, 2020 3:27 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2020 9:19 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A once stolen plaque is now hanging back on the wall of the Jesse James home, at the hands of the man who stole it in the first place. 

On January 31st, camera surveillance caught a suspect breaking into the Jesse James home and snatching a plaque reading, "God Bless Our Home." The plaque was said to be the last thing James touched before being shot. 

Well, the thief must have had a change of heart because he returned it, himself. 

“Five months later he brought the plaque back. Brought it in the front door and said, “Don’t call the police,” and the other items he stole. He lived about a half block up the street,” said Gary Chilcote, Patee House Museum Director.

Now the director of the museum doesn't know why the thief returned the plaque, but he has a pretty good idea why the man stole it to begin with. 

“The guy has a large tattoo of Jesse James on his chest. He would have to be a big fan of him,” said Chilcote. 

At the time of the robbery, Chilcote didn't piece it together- but he actually met the thief before. 

“Before he had broken in, he contacted my son and me on the front porch and took his t-shirt off and showed us his tattoo," said Chilcote.

While one mystery is solved, another one has popped up in its place at the Patee House. 

“They crawled in over the fence and got inside, kicked over two of the tombstones, broke them off at the base. They’re white marble. They took three of them,” said Chicote.

On November 18th, the cemetary outside the Jesse James home was vandalized. Where four tombstones stood, only one remains whole. Upstairs in the Patee Museum, a second is being repaired after the vandals left it torn in two.

The tombstones were 160 years old. 

“So, it’s a sad case. These were historically significant,” said Chilcote. 

Unfortunately this time, the security cameras didn't capture the suspects. A light in the corner of the fence blinded the camera facing the cemetery.

Chilcote doesn't believe the tombstone will be returned, but he said crazier things have happened. He's just hoping the raids of crime come to an end for the Patee House. 

“They were not particularly financially worth anything, but they’re something that we no longer have that would be nice to be displayed,” said Chilcote. 

The museum director said they didn't press charges against Jesse James' thief but instead, returned the plaque's monetary compensation back to the insurance company. 

To see the refastened plaque, tour the Patee House Museum- opened on Saturdays throughout December. 

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