A man fishing on Lake Mirandy in Highland got a little more than he bargained for when he reeled in his catch on June 13.
William Davidson, 70, didn't catch a catfish, striper or bass -- instead he reeled in a ladies brown canvas purse that had been stolen in Ash Flat in 1981.
"I just go down to the slab and fish a little bit," Davidson said. "I was fishing for bass close to the bottom of the lake when I found it. I haven't ever caught anything like that before."
Inside he found rocks and a leather wallet with identification of the owner. Not knowing quite what to do, Davidson called police.
Highland Police Chief Bea Sharp said the purse contained several rocks up to 4 inches in diameter. It was obvious to her the purse had been stolen and intentionally weighted down by the rocks, she said.
"He thought it was kind of strange," Sharp said. "A woman's purse with rocks in it in a lake was a little suspicious. It's not something you come across every day."
Sharp contacted the owner by identification found in the purse -- Leca Ledbetter, 44, of Malvern. Ledbetter's fishing license, driver's license and Sears credit card were still intact, Sharp said.
"It was a long, long time ago, Ledbetter said. "I never expected anyone to find it, let alone turn it in."
Lebetter and her husband had been at a rodeo in the area when the purse was stolen in 1981. When the couple stopped at a local motel to sleep before traveling back to Malvern, a thief stole the purse out of the Lebetter's unlocked truck.
The next morning Ledbetter and her husband told police of the theft and left to travel back home for a friend's wedding.
"I never thought it would turn up," she said. "It didn't really have anything valuable in it. It had very little money in it and when we got home we changed accounts and cancelled credit cards."
"The reason why she remembered the theft is because she said it was the first and only time she had something stolen from her in her life," Sharp said.