Woman wants deceased grandmother’s stolen items returned

Posted at 7:16 PM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-10 19:16:23-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.--A woman who said her deceased grandmother's items were stolen wants them back and the person or people responsible held accountable.

The heartbeat and matriarch of Demi Sanders' family, Ann Spranger, died last month.

Her life was anything but easy in the months leading up to her death. In June 2014, while living at Lakeview Meadows in Battle Creek, a massive fire broke out causing Spranger and nearly 50 other seniors to lose their homes.

However, it's what happened in the months to follow, that Sanders continues to struggle with now that her grandmother, who the grandkids call "oma", is gone.

"To come home and find out that everything--your couch, your tables, your silverware, your jewelry--everything's gone," Sanders said.

Because of safety concerns, the people who lived at Lakeview Meadows weren't allowed back in their homes for several months after the fire. When Sanders' family returned, they found her grandmother's items were left in disarray, ransacked and stolen.

Diana Williamson, another resident at the apartment complex at the time of the fire, said her stuff was also missing.

"They got all my identity," Williamson said. "All the jewelry and flat screen T.V.'s"

It's not the material things that continues to leave a lingering pain for the people who lost so much.

"Probably the memories--the things you can't replace," Williamson said.

Sanderson said her grandmother's apartment was considered a complete loss, not because of the fire, but because of the water damage. Because no one was allowed inside for several months, Sanders said it made her grandmother and everyone else who lived there an easy target.

"They [the thieves] probably looked at that red X [on the door-- that's a complete loss [and thought] nobody's going to be coming back to get this stuff--nobody's going to miss it," Sanders said.

State Wide Disaster Restoration is the company out of Southfield that was contracted by the complex to keep the building safe and to also keep people from entering. FOX 17 spoke with a representative who said they hired several subcontractors including a 24 hour security guard. The spokesperson said because the complex is so large they couldn't see everything at all times. However, the representative admitted to FOX 17 that they fired two men, who were subcontracted out of Grand Rapids, after catching them wandering off into rooms that they weren't suppose to be in. The spokesperson didn't know if the men were directly tied to the thefts.

FOX 17 reached out to the Battle Creek Police Department to see if they were investigating, but didn't hear back by 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

While the missing items won't physically bring Sanders' oma back, she said having those little pieces of her, those memories, those family heirlooms, would bring peace to her heart. Adding, that getting them back is the one thing she can do for the woman who did so much for her family.

"She was amazing. She raised quite a bit of us. She was always there for us," Sanders said. "It didn't matter how bad ya screwed up she would be there in a heartbeat."