LEWISTON — Some contents of a wallet stolen Tuesday from an elderly woman's walker have been found and returned, Lewiston police said Friday.
Meanwhile, people who've never met Edith Ryder, an 80-year-old grandmother of nine, are offering to help. On Friday, someone stopped by and gave her $20. When the postal carrier delivered the mail, she received two checks, including one for $100. As she opened the envelopes, Ryder started crying.
She called the help “unreal.”
Police said they too had heard from good Samaritans offering to help Ryder. The high-profile crime has touched many people. “It's good to see these people come forward,” Sgt. Marc Robitaille said. “It makes you feel there's a lot more good people than bad people.”
Ryder, who suffered a stroke earlier this year, lives at the downtown Oak Park Apartments. Her wallet was stolen as she was in a hallway on the first floor pushing her walker.
She was confronted by a seemingly friendly man who asked, “How are you doing?” He then lifted her wallet from the shelf of her walker, where she kept her phone, magazines and other belongings. The man swiftly left the building through a side exit, the woman said.
“I was so surprised," Ryder said. "He seemed like a nice guy.”
On Thursday, the contents of her wallet were returned after being found by Lewiston Public Works employee Mike Danforth, police said. Police declined to disclose where Danforth found the wallet, saying the theft was under investigation.
“We have a couple of good leads,” Robitaille said. The wallet was found close to the crime scene, police said.
Still missing, Ryder said, are her food stamp card, her driver's license and her Social Security card. Authorities have been notified that the cards are missing. “If someone tries to use them, they'll catch them,” said Jill Child, resident service coordinator at the housing complex. “It's fraud.”
Also missing from the wallet was $40 in cash, Robitaille said. The wallet itself had some kind of substance on it, so Danforth took out the contents and turned them in to police, Robitaille said.
When police gave Ryder back her belongings, “she was elated,” Robitaille said. “When she was given the picture, she started crying.”
“It means a lot,” Ryder said. The photo was a picture of her husband and four children. “My husband, of course, is gone. One of my sons died. I'm relieved to have that picture.”
The theft left the woman frightened and rattled. Her blood pressure and pulse have risen. She's had trouble sleeping. “I've laid awake for two nights," she said. "I heard every car that drove by.”
Like others in the building, she's less trusting. She saw one man she didn't know, a visiting nurse, and grew afraid until she was assured he was safe, Child said.
Since the theft, residents watch who's coming through the front door. The alarm is turned on and will sound if someone leaves the side exits.
Child said she couldn't believe such a theft could happen. "It's unheard of in this little community. We're a secure building. For somebody to walk through the door and steal a wallet in this building, I can't believe it. It's very sad.”
Child said she, police, and the company that owns Oak Park Apartments will talk about getting security cameras in the building.
Ryder has made changes too. Her replacement wallet is no longer in the tray of her walker.
The man who stole from Edith Ryder was described as in his 20s, with sandy-colored hair. He was between 5 feet, 7 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches tall. Anyone with any information should call Lewiston police at 513-3001 and ask for the watch commander.