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'The perfect Christmas gift': Woman connects with owner of sentimental items after 3-year search

Posted at 11:34 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 07:47:21-05

INDIANAPOLIS — After a 3-year-long search, the mission to find the couple who left behind priceless possessions after a Kokomo tornado has been accomplished.

"Hi, Mr. Townsend!" Bray greeted Townsend on the phone.

"Hello! Oh my god! How are you doing?" Townsend replied.

"I'm good! It's really you! I'm good!" Bray said.

"I get a text from a friend and I'm thinking, 'Oh, this has got to be a joke,'" Townsend said.

sentimental items left.jpg
An Indianapolis woman needs help with her three-year search, for a couple that evacuated Central Indiana after a tornado destroyed their home.

Tuesday night, RTV6 introduced you to Crystal Bray, an Indianapolis woman who collected the lost memories of James and Nina Townsend, including a Bible, family photos, a folded American flag, a United States veteran pocket watch, military ribbons and lapel pins and U.S. Army certificates bearing the name of the Townsends.

PREVIOUS | Indy woman searching for owners of sentimental items left behind after tornado in Kokomo

"It took us a year to really get back on our feet because we lost, basically, and you know for a fact, just about everything, and there's stuff I can't replace," Townsend said.

For the past three years, Bray has tried to reach the Townsends, a couple she didn't know, but helped during the storm's aftermath. Now, less than 24 hours after appearing on RTV6, James Townsend has been located.

"Then all of a sudden I get this text and a Messager text from Cameron going, 'Is this you?' I'm like, 'What?!'" Townsend said. "And there's my wife on TV!"

Crystal Bray will finally be able to return a photo of James and Nina Townsend after a three-year search.

Pictures of Townsend's wife, Nina, were among the clues used to locate James. The pictures he never thought he'd see again brought back happy memories of the love of his life, who died in 2017.

"Oh my god Crystal, I don't know what to say to you," Townsend said.

"You don't have to say anything," Bray responded.

"I've been crying all afternoon. Now I get to have more stuff of my wife's," Townsend said.

Townsend, a veteran and former FedEx driver now lives 500 miles away in Sylva, N.C. The phone call he got today was a gift he never thought he'd receive. Bray plans to mail Townsend his belongings and the two might meet up when she visits North Carolina in early 2020.

"You never gave up for three years," Townsend told Bray. "Most people would've said, 'Look, six months, hey, I'm done. I'm not going to look no more.' But this is amazing. I'm still overwhelmed, flabbergasted. I don't know what to say. God. Golly, this is awesome."

"I can't even describe it. It's the perfect Christmas gift," Bray said.

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