04/19/17 — The case of the missing rifle: $30,000 antique rifle reported stolen

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The case of the missing rifle: $30,000 antique rifle reported stolen

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on April 19, 2017 9:26 AM

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Pictured is the case the antique rifle would have been placed had it made it to the Wayne County Museum.

A $30,000 antique rifle went missing from the Wayne County Museum last month, according to a Goldsboro police report.

And while no one is pointing fingers, neither does anyone seem able to say exactly where the artifact is or from where it disappeared.

The museum's executive director, Rebeckah Fitzgerald, said the gun -- an 1862 Fayetteville Armory Type II long rifle -- was expected to arrive two months ago along with 17 other long guns.

The other rifles showed up, but Fitzgerald said the missing rifle was not in the inventory.

"When we took all the guns out, this one was missing," she said. "So I can't say the gun was ever brought here."

According to a Goldsboro police report, Neil Bartlett, executive director of the Old Waynesborough Park, discovered the rifle missing in March. He filed a police report on April 13 and told officers the antique gun had been removed by an "unknown person" from the museum, located at 116 N. William St.

According to the report, the rifle was noticed to be missing on March 10, but was listed as last known secure as far back as July 28, 2016.

Police had no indication as to why Bartlett allowed almost a month to pass before reporting the weapon stolen, and declined to comment further citing an "ongoing investigation."

The report also said that Bartlett told officers he has additional information to provide during the investigation, but it did not elaborate.

"The police will be talking to, if they haven't already, to the people who placed the gun there," Bartlett said. "I'm not going to comment further than that."

"I cannot place the gun. I never saw it."

Fitzgerald said Bartlett reported the gun stolen to the police because the gun did not belong to him. She said a liaison, whom she would not name, works with the family who donated the gun to Waynesborough Park.

She said the museum agreed to house the rifle temporarily, as Waynesborough Park is still under repair from Hurricane Matthew.

Fitzgerald said the liaison has informed the museum he does not have the gun, and he told Fitzgerald he believes someone took the gun from the museum.

"It's missing, in quotation marks," she said. "The gun may or may not have ever been here."

Fitzgerald said the museum has a security system, but she said security cameras only hold two weeks worth of footage. She said no cases were damaged, and she said no one could have walked out of the museum, carrying a long rifle.

"There must be a story behind this," Maj. Anthony Carmon said. "We will figure it out."

Anyone with information on this or any crime in Wayne County was asked to call Crime Stoppers at 735-2255. Callers may remain anonymous, and  tips leading to a felony arrest are eligible for a cash reward.