Ten-year-old Tyler Schaefer was “shocked” after looking through drawers in a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel room a year ago and finding $10,000 in wrapped and stacked bills, according to KMBC-TV.
His father, Cody, who was staying with Tyler at the Hilton Airport Hotel, said they had to turn the money in because they didn’t know who it belonged to.
So they gave the cash to a pair of off-duty police officers and then continued back home to Rapid City, South Dakota.
When inquiring about the money later, the Schaefers were told the harsh news that their failure to follow procedures outlined in a 75-year-old state law likely precludes them from ever seeing the cash, according to the Kansas City Star:
A Missouri law written in 1939 outlines the steps finders must take to claim lost cash, including filing an affidavit with a state court judge within 10 days, physically posting a list describing the money on the courthouse door and at four other public places within the city and publishing ads in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks.
Tyler and his father missed the 10-day deadline and didn’t tack posters around town. But they did immediately notify authorities in a selfless act that made national news headlines — generating a much larger audience than any local posters could.
Cody Schaefer told the Star Tuesday that he had difficulty understanding Missouri law on the matter, but a lawyer he approached for help told him he needed to fork over a $1,000 retainer, which he couldn’t afford.
If the owner of the money doesn’t surface after four more years, it will head to the state treasurer’s office to be kept in a trust — then the Schaefers can follow the procedures to try to get it, KMBC reported.
Police Capt. Tye Grant said the boy deserves the money. “We wish the law allowed us to give it back to him,” he told the Star.
But in spite of the disappointment, Tyler’s dad has been emphasizing the bigger picture at hand.
“We did the right thing and turned it in,” Cody Schaefer told KMBC. “At least it’s something to show that doing the right thing is actually worth doing the right thing for, you know?”