FORT WORTH — It is never too late to make a difference or solve a case. Just ask Fort Worth police Sgt. Brent Halford.
"I think this is a once in a career thing," he said.
The 13-year veteran of the force recently helped solve a cold case dealing with a missing box from the late 1970s.
The box belonged to fallen Officer Jimmie Chadwell, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1978.
"Around the time he was killed, the box ended up missing from the Chadwell home," Halford said.
Last month, the sergeant got a tip that someone was advertising a posting on eBay that listed "hundreds of photos" of Caldwell.
"At first, I didn't believe it," he said.
But — sure enough — the post appeared to be authentic. It showed photos, personal notes and letters, and even report cards of Chadwell's children.
The family and Halford hoped to make a winning bid for the collection, but were outbid by a local history buff named Larry O'Neal.
"This is the only time I've ever experienced anything like this," O'Neal told News 8.
Once he got wind of how police were trying to track down the box's contents, he agreed to forfeit his online purchase.
The family received it all over the weekend.
"Those officers, male and female, they protect us," said O'Neal.
Police aren't ready to share yet just who stole the box back in the late 70s. They say the person who originally posted it on eBay picked it up at an estate sale a number of years ago. The circumstances surrounding how it ended up there remain unclear.
Halford said what is most important is that the contents are rightfully back in hands of the Chadwell family.
A son of Officer Chadwell declined to comment.
The fallen officer will be one of many men and women honored at the department's annual memorial service on Wednesday morning.