ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thursday did not go as Angela Hernandez expected.
Hernandez, who lives in Corrales, woke up to find a missed call and voicemail on her phone. It was from an Albuquerque Police officer.
“He tells me, you know, ‘if you are related, call me back, I can try and get it back to you,’” Hernandez explained. The call was from Officer Simon Drobik, a familiar face at the Albuquerque Police Department who frequently does media interviews as a public information officer.
Drobik had called to tell Hernandez that he was in possession of something that she’d likely want to have — a purse. But it wasn’t her purse; it was her mom, Martha’s, bag.
“My emotions are just like… I mean, it is unbelievable,” Hernandez told KRQE News 13. “It’s unbelievable, because it’s been a year.”
More than a year, she says, since her mom passed away.
“I cannot wait to see what belongings they have found of my mom’s,” she said.
Drobik says the purse turned up at the Goodwill on San Mateo near McLeod on Tuesday. It was filled with Martha’s things, so Goodwill contacted police. Drobik, after some sleuthing, tracked down Hernandez’s phone number.
The reunion was set for Thursday after lunch.
“Hello!” Hernandez called out as Drobik approached their meeting spot in front of APD headquarters downtown.
“Does this look familiar? This is the one, right?” Drobik asked.
“Oh my God, that is the one,” Hernandez replied.
So, how did it end up at the Goodwill?
Hernandez says it was last seen at a nursing home in Rio Rancho in the Fall of 2014. Martha was temporarily moved from the facility for an evaluation for a few days. But when she came back to the home, all of her things were gone. Vanished.
“Her favorite blanket, her favorite pajamas, her shirts, her shoes — her comfortable shoes,” Hernandez said. “You know, just all of those things were just wiped out — like nothing.”
She says the care center had no explanation for where it went, and never notified her of what was happening. She was furious, and when her mother died about six months later, Hernandez felt as if she was left with no more than memories to remember Martha.
That is, until Thursday.
“This is more than I could have asked for,” she said, examining the contents of the handbag.
The purse contained Martha’s ID cards, her wallet with her social security card and cash still inside, glasses and even her teeth.
She thanked Drobik, then headed to the Goodwill, where she was told that the purse was brought in by a group of Boy Scouts who had collected donations during a charity drive at the Kmart at Carlisle and I-40 on Sunday.
It’s unknown who dropped it off at Kmart. She was told it was dropped off by itself.