Shannon LeBlanc of San Diego and Maggie Flynn of Las Vegas have never met. But thanks to a lost camera and some amateur detective work, LeBlanc gave Flynn a most precious gift: the last pictures of her father.
The mystery began when LeBlanc was returning to her office from lunch and noticed a homeless man snapping pictures on a new Samsung digital camera. The man told her he'd found the camera, so she bought it from him for $20, determined to find the original owner.
"It just really stinks to lose a camera and memories and pictures, so I just felt compelled to find the owner of that camera," she said.
LeBlanc looked for a name or address on the case. She contacted the Samsung with the serial number, hoping it was registered. She posted info on Craigslist's Lost and Found. Nothing worked.
So she turned to the pictures.
"It was the same girl in a lot of the pictures, so I knew it was her camera," LeBlanc said. "And I found the 'bingo!' which was a picture inscribed in the sand here in San Diego -- 'Maggie loves Louis' -- so I knew the couple's names.
"At one point in the middle of the week, I was like, 'This is a lot of energy I'm spending on this,' but I just felt I really wanted to find them."
Then LeBlanc found a picture at a local restaurant. She picked out the name of the restaurant, Greystone Steakhouse, from a menu in the picture, and had the date the photo was taken. She called the restaraunt and hit the jackpot. There was a reservation for a Maggie on that date, and the restaurant had her cell-phone number.
LeBlanc left a message and got a call back within minutes.
"She asked if she could get sappy with me for a second, and I said sure, and she said I'm out to dinner with my mom and some of my other family members, because tonight would've been my parents 27th wedding anniversary," LeBlanc said.
"Well, the thing about it is, my dad just died a little over a month ago, and my last pictures with him were on the camera," Flynn told LeBlanc.
Flynn still can't believe someone would take the time and effort to do such a thing.
"There's not many nice people out there who would go out of their way to do that," Flynn said. "They would just take the camera and forget about it, so I'm very grateful she did that for me."
"I had goosebumps" LeBlanc said. "God was involved. It was definitely meant to be that she got her camera back."
Flynn's explanation is slightly different: "It was my dad."