Saturday, September 16, 2000

Jewel bag took long way home

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The case of the missing $1 million jewel case has been solved.

        Sort of.

        The bag was returned to its owner early Friday morning after it was reported missing following a Comair flight Tuesday from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Cincinnati.

        Frank Jones, a jewelry dealer from Birmingham, Ala., had to drive to the Delta Air Lines baggage center in Atlanta to recover his bag shortly after midnight. He wondered later how it got so far off track.

        “Someone stole it, and got cold feet when all the heat came down, I guarantee you,” said Mr. Jones, whose brothers Jason and David had lost the bag on the way back from a sales call. “Whoever pinched it sent it into luggage purgatory to cover his tracks.”

        Mr. Jones said the Delta facility called late Thursday saying the bag was there, and he praised workers for locating the case. But no one knows how the bag wound up at the facility.

        The loss made national news and brought the attention of the FBI, which Friday suspended its investigation.

        None of the bag's contents — 2,298 pieces of jewelry, including emerald, diamond and ruby rings and diamond tennis bracelets as big as 10 carats — were missing, said Mr. Jones, who listed the worth at $244,692 wholesale, or almost $1 million retail.

        “I feel euphoric and blessed,” Mr. Jones said.

        Comair spokesman Nick Miller reported that the company, a Delta subsidiary, said a preliminary investigation turned up no evidence of foul play.

        Mr. Jones said the gate-check tag his brothers put on the bag had been replaced with another tag.


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