Woman returns $100K found at restaurant

A Murfreesboro, Tenn., woman chose not to follow the old saying "Finders keepers, losers weepers" when she discovered nearly $100,000 in a bag at a local Cracker Barrel restaurant. But it wasn't that the thought didn't cross her mind.

"Satan will tempt you," said Billie Watts, 75. "I have been having real bad teeth problems. I thought, 'I'll get my teeth fixed.' "

She ultimately decided to return the money she found in a bag in the women's restroom to its rightful owner.

Watts had to be coaxed by Michael Peralta, one of her 12 grandchildren, to tell her story.

"I'm proud of her because if anyone in the world deserved to find $97,000 it was them," Peralta, 31, said of his grandparents, who live in an apartment and depend on their Social Security checks.

The excitement began when Watts stopped by the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store with her husband, Malcolm, Thursday afternoon. In the bathroom, she found a tapestry bag hanging on a hook on one of the stall doors.

"It had a Manila envelope that was sticking out of the bag," she said. "It couldn't zip up; it was too full."

She searched the bag for the identity of its owner. Inside the envelope was a picture of two women and a child, but no names. Then she spotted the money.

"I said 'Oh my goodness,' " Watts recalled Monday. "I have never seen that much money in my whole life. I counted the money. There was $97,000 in one-thousand-dollar bills. They were neatly stacked inside the bag. "

Watts decided to leave the restaurant with the money.

"I was afraid to go to the counter," she said. "Maybe the wrong person could get ahold of it."

After the couple returned home, Watts called the Cracker Barrel restaurant.

"I told them I found something in the bathroom. I just left my number and asked them to call me."

In 10 to 15 minutes, a woman called.

"I knew it was the right person when she called. She identified the picture, the envelope and the money," said Watts. "I met her in front of the Cracker Barrel about 15 to 20 minutes after she called me."

In the restaurant's parking lot, the woman who left the money got out of her car and approached Watts.

"She run up and hugged me. She got excited and didn't even look at the bag except to pull out the picture to show it to me," said Watts. "She said it was the only picture she had of her daughter and her daughter's child, who are both deceased."

The money, the woman told Watts, was the proceeds from the sale of her home and all the belongings in it.

"She was going to start her new life in Florida with her son," said Watts.

The woman offered to pay Watts $1,000, but Watts refused it.

"(The woman) told me she needed every penny she could to start over," said Watts. "(The money) wasn't mine. I had no right to it. My mom and dad told me never to take anything that didn't belong to me." [via usatoday]

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