East Alabama family offers reward for help finding stolen safe filled with late son's belongings

East Alabama family offers reward for help finding stolen safe filled with late son's belongings
Ben Peppers (Courtesy: The Peppers family)
Ben Peppers (Courtesy: The Peppers family)

SALEM, AL (WTVM) - The Peppers family returned to their Salem home Monday afternoon after an overnight trip only to find their back door kicked in and their belongings disheveled.

"I don't even know how to describe when you first see that somebody has been in your house that doesn't belong there," explained Rita Peppers.

A television and other electronics were gone, but most importantly the thieves got away with a five-foot tall fireproof safe, filled with belongings that mean more to the Peppers family than any material item.

"The things they took that were in that safe belong to my son and he's not here. I'll never have another Mother's Day card; I'll never have another picture with him," Rita said.

Just shy of his 20th birthday, Ben was killed in a car wreck in north Alabama in 2008 after his friend ran a stop sign and was T-boned by an oncoming truck.

His wallet was found at the scene and is one of the several items in the missing safe.

"There are still his blood stains on it. I wouldn't wipe them off. I just left them there and that's where it's been since we brought it home that day. The wallet has nothing of value to anyone, but me," Rita said.

Tracks are left on the porch where the thieves drug the safe filled with CDs of recovered photos, greeting cards and class projects.

"I mean there are cards from kindergarten and first grade with his handprint; I'm not ever going to get those back,” Rita said.

The family's last concern is the material items that were taken.

They are pleading those responsible not to destroy the memories that are left of their son.

"Put your mother in my place right now and just put it somewhere safe and let me have it, that is all I ask," Peppers said.

The case is being investigated by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Rita said there is a $500 reward offered to anyone with information about their missing safe and belongings. If you have any information, you are asked to call Columbus Police at (706) 653-3231 or (706) 653-3232.

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