Jim Fetters is a big Halloween fan. Every year, he dresses up his residence on Belleville’s east side for the season. He decorates his yard with the regular fare of pumpkins and mums.
On Wednesday afternoon, Fetters’ wife, Julie, noticed something was amiss. Some mums they had purchased for this year’s display were gone. It took Jim Fetters all of about 5 minutes to figure out what happened to the flowering plants.
He grabbed his smart-phone and checked surveillance video of his front porch. Around 9:30 a.m., the video showed a woman dressed in black pants, a white shirt and a purple jacket approach his front porch and leave with two mums. Four other mums and two pumpkins on the porch went untouched.
Fetters wasn’t about to stay mum over the incident. He turned to social media, posting a video on his Facebook page around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Within 24 hours, the video was viewed more than 136,000 times and shared by more than 3,500 people. And the mums were returned, unharmed. Video taken at 12:49 p.m. Thursday showed a woman placing the mums back near the front porch of Fetters’ residence. She left the mums without saying anything to the Fetters family.
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“With social media now, it’s really easy to find someone,” Fetters said Thursday afternoon. “The way people shared it and made it get out there, it was like a firestorm. They helped us find her. I’m thankful for the people who knew who she was and helping the community out. It makes me feel proud to be a resident of Belleville when people come together like this.”
With social media now, it’s really easy to find someone. The way people shared it and made it get out there, it was like a firestorm. They helped us find her. I’m thankful for the people who knew who she was and helping the community out. It makes me feel proud to be a resident of Belleville when people come together like this.
James Fetters, whose mums went missing
A Belleville native, Fetters, 34, moved back to town nine years ago after a seven-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. Only one other time has he experience anything like what happened this week. He said an unlocked vehicle parked in front of his residence was burglarized about five years ago. Some electronics were taken among what he said were $1,000 in losses. That event helped him make the decision to put in surveillance equipment on his residence.
He says he now has two surveillance systems, both of which, he said, helped gather evidence this week.
He turned over video of the incident to Belleville police. He filed a report with police on Thursday and intends to press charges. He said he would drop the case if the person apologizes and, if the person has committed any other thefts, confesses to those as well.
Fetters was not surprised to find the mums back home on Thursday.
“Honestly, I wasn’t that surprised, considering how many people posted on Facebook,” Fetters said. “We’re not a very big town, and we’re a tight-knit community where I live. I knew someone would know her and I knew she would feel guilty and bring them back.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Fetters’ Facebook post had nearly 500 comments, many from people who were not even on his friends list. Many of the people were upset with what happened.
“I think (the public) was sickened,” Fetters said. “Nobody needs flowers to live. You need food. You need water. You don’t need mums. I think they’re pretty much on clearance everywhere.”