Unbelievable Items Discovered in Abandoned Storage Units
Some places just beg to be explored. Old, abandoned houses with their labyrinthine corridors beckon adventurers to delve into their shadowy secrets. Dusty attics accumulate old treasures until one day, some brave soul ventures into the cluttered abyss. Storage units, too, can be a great source of discovery. Some might dismiss them as temporary storage places for the mundane. However, people have uncovered some pretty amazing things in them–from the unknown, to the rare, to the downright creepy. Read on to learn more about strange storage unit discoveries.
1. Human Remains
When a group of men in Kentucky gained possession of a dead man’s storage unit they expected to find treasure. Instead, they found several human bones in a plastic bag. Obviously, the treasure-seeking men wouldn’t reap a fortune off those. They would, however, help police with a puzzling case. It was soon revealed that those bones belonged to the dead man’s wife.
The woman, Doris Wood, had been missing for several years. Her children wondered where she was. When they asked their father Robert Wood, he would usually relay stories of abandonment and betrayal. The discovery of the bones alone did not lead to a definitive conclusion as to what exactly happened to Doris Wood. All that was certain is that the woman’s bones had been tampered with. The femurs, for instance, appeared to have been cut with a saw.
2. A Pirate Treasure Chest
Yes, you read that right. Someone actually did find a genuine treasure chest in a storage unit, and not just a cheap gaudily colored toy one. This treasure chest dated back all the way to the 16th century. Even better? It was filled to the brim with old currency!
The unit cost the Storage Wars couple, Laura and Dan Dotson, just one grand. When they uncovered the chest and opened it up, they found heaps of very old coins from Spain. In total, the coins along with the chest they came in were valued at and ultimately sold for $500,000.
3. An Authentic James Bond Car
The person who made this lucky discovery did not know much about the Bond franchise at all; however, he certainly did reap a pretty penny–$1 million to be exact. Elon Musk purchased the car. It all began in 1989 when one man and his brother won a storage unit at auction for the bargain price of $100.
When the two first discovered the car, they didn’t think much of it. The car was in poor condition and had a damaged roof. It rested concealed beneath a cocoon of dust and blankets. When the man drove the car out of the unit, however, people took notice. They mentioned how similar it looked to the one featured in the film The Spy Who Loved Me. After much prodding and endless displays of interest, the man succumbed to the hype and took a look at the movie himself. Suddenly, he understood the fortune he had chanced upon.
4. A Rocket
So, finding an actual James Bond car in a random storage unit might seem like a freak streak of luck. Even so, most people would not think twice upon finding an ordinary, run-down car in such a place. The vehicle might need a lot of touching up, but it might be worth something in the end. However, nobody really expects to find something like a rocket in a storage unit.
But that is exactly what “Auction Hunters” stars Clinton Jones and Allen Haff found in 2011 after they gained access to a storage unit for the price of $1500. They ended up striking big when they discovered not only the rocket but also a genuine NASA countdown clock. The duo went to an expert to make sure they really found the real deal. As it turned out, the rocket was a carefully crafted model. Still, Jones and Haff sold it and made a profit a little over $1000.
5. An Extensive Collection of All Things Burt Reynolds
Actor Burt Reynolds has always been an eccentric man. While he enjoyed successful careers as an actor and college football star, he was not always the best at managing his money or his many collections. As a result, he failed to pay for many storage units. In 1999, fans had the opportunity to buy Reynolds’ goods at auction.
Together, a group of devout fans pitched in to claim the storage units. They gathered up all the unworn clothes, the dusty saddles, and shimmering badges and founded a museum called Burt Reynolds and Friends Museums. Now, Reynolds’ most prized possessions are not only safe but wholly his.
6. Michael Jordan Recruitment Letters
Few can deny the impact basketball star Michael Jordan had on the world of basketball. Before retiring in 2003, he enjoyed successful stints with both the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. But before all that, he played college basketball at the University of North Carolina. Even as MJ ascended the ranks to claim his crown as basketball king, a part of him rested in a storage unit in North Carolina.
The man who forked over money for the unit was hopeful but not expecting much. Fortunately for him, his findings exceeded his expectations when he stumbled upon several documents that all belonged to Michael Jordan himself. Among them were two letters that would prove to be pivotal in shaping his basketball career. These documents sold for an impressive $50k.
7. Some Strange Dollar Bills
When one purchases a storage unit, one hopes to hit the jackpot in some form. Usually, that form is not cold-hard cash. It might be a rare trading card, a coveted piece of history, or a sleek but antique automobile. These finds usually do reap big-money in the end, once a buyer is found. However, one lucky person stumbled upon the actual cash–or so they thought.
The unit cost just $400. Once its buyer got busy on it, however, it was discovered that over $24k had been stored away. Of course, there was a catch. The heaps of bills were missing their signature presidential portraits. Still, the new owner of the unit might be able to make it out just fine if the bills’ serial numbers have not faded away.
8. Lost Photos of Amelia Earhart
Most people have seen pictures of Amelia Earhart in grade-school history textbooks. Earhart became the first ever female pilot to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, during her flight around the entire world, Earhart suddenly vanished without a trace, someplace over the Pacific Ocean.
While the mystery of Amelia Earhart endures, one lucky California woman discovered some very old photos of the ambitious aviator. They had been left to collect dust in an envelope in a storage unit and were expected sell at auction for much as $1000 each.
9. Newspapers Announcing the Death of Elvis
Most people would not think much of a stack of newspapers, no matter how old they appeared to be. As far as most people are concerned, such papers might be worth a cursory glance, just for curiosity’s sake. After that, it is off to the recycling bin or to the bottom of a birdcage. However, a 2010 Storage Wars episode showed the world exactly why one should not underestimate an old newspaper.
On this particular episode, a storage unit was revealed to contain several newspapers, most dating back several decades. They also happened to be an excellent shape, not a page out of place, and they announced some very critical information: the death of the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley. Some experts estimated that the lucky new owner of these papers might well be able to fetch up to $90k.
10. 1956 Ford Thunderbirds
The Ford Thunderbird is a stylish looking car. It first hit the market in 1955 and was marketed as a sleek luxury car. As far as the 1956 model goes, only a couple dozen were ever produced. One lucky family just happened to be sitting on a gold mine that housed a little over half of the automobiles.
The 1956 Ford Thunderbird has endured most of its life in the shadow of cold storage spaces. For a while, that space was some well-kept facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The owner of the collection of cars offered his family quite the surprise when they explored the unit. There sat 28 of the cars. One of them sold for $300,000.
11. Miscellaneous Hollywood Memorabilia
Lovers of all things film and television will surely find this 2011 storage unit haul to be a win. The best part? The items were not scattered about the storage unit and instead were meticulously boxed–as though whoever once owned them knew that they were worth preserving.
So, what did such precious cargo entail? As the story goes, over 40,000 items. There were old costumes and celebrity autographs. Among the load were also such impressive things as Disney film cells and original Tim Burton artwork. As a whole, this lucky find was estimated to bring in at least $1 million.
12. Civil War Antiques
Many objects that have played some role in any major war tend to fare pretty well on the antique market. Whether it is an old gun or a rusted tin of beans that a soldier stowed away, many history buffs clamor to get their hands on such artifacts. Thus, when one lucky Virginia auction winner stumbled upon old wartime objects, it was clear there was money to be made.
In fact, the storage unit used to belong to a veteran of World War II, specifically a general. Just about everything housed in the unit related to war in one way or another. Perhaps some of the most impressive items yet were those confirmed to be from the American Civil War, including authentic documents boasting real presidential signatures. The haul, as a whole, could fetch the new owner a couple hundred grand.
13. Body Parts
So far, you have read about storage units that once housed human bones, blood-stained items, and even decaying bodies. Not to mention the barbecue leg. It only makes sense, then, that someone else would be unfortunate enough to stumble upon other unclaimed body parts. That is exactly what happened to Florida native Philip Knight.
He walked into the storage unit he just purchased and was taken aback by a ghastly stench. Noticing it came from specific containers, he neared them and was stunned by what he found: actual human body parts. And that was just the beginning of his terror. Once police were called in, it was discovered that hundreds of containers resided in the storage unit, all filled with the same disturbing cargo. Some of the containers had even begun to crack beneath their own weight, pooling repulsive fluids all over. So, who was behind this strange trove of human body parts?
14. Body Parts (cont.)
A rigorous investigation led police right to a conclusion that made sense. Michael Berkland, the unit’s former owner, had worked as a medical examiner before getting his medical examiner license revoked. His transgression? He had failed to finalize autopsy reports. Naturally, this information set off some very piercing alarm bells.
Berkland worked for several funeral homes as a medical examiner. Instead of completing the autopsies as expected, he would “harvest” several organs for unknown purposes. When he was caught, he was immediately penalized for his unsanitary practices. He was also arrested for driving with an invalid license.
15. Stolen Identities
Imagine scoring a storage unit and believing you hit the jackpot, only to find that not only is everything now at your disposal totally worthless; somebody was already profiting from doing something highly illegal but you’d never see a cent of your own money back. That sums up the experience of Colorado resident Brandon Michael.
The floor of the unit was littered with document after document of highly sensitive personal information–everything from medical records to social security numbers. But it went much deeper than that. Michael learned that whoever had been operating out of this storage unit knew exactly what they were doing. A printer sat untouched, likely used to fuel the business of deception. On top of all that, the place was littered with illegal drugs. Michael would soon unravel quite the wild story.
16. Stolen Identities (cont.)
To Michael’s surprise, the police wanted nothing to do with the evidence he had unearthed. Instead, they told him just to dispose of it and pretend he never found it. But Michael was not satisfied with this answer. For this reason, he leaked the information to the media. The media, of course, had a field day with this juicy story and as a result effort was put into verifying the evidence.
Everything led back to a woman named Dawn Philbin and the hospital at which she had been previously employed. Philbin had been recently fired. As it turned out, the storage unit was not a completely upstanding place and was run by a man who specialized in pilfering identities. Philbin’s position at the hospital came in handy for such a man, as you can imagine. The two partnered up and ran a robust operation. They were careful to select the identities of people with the best looking records. Of course, their empire came crashing down when the two were inevitably arrested.
17. Baby Bodies
We know what you are thinking: you did not think it could get any worse than finding everything from long-dead bodies to festering organs. Alas, you would be wrong. This next story proves that all too well. As most of these horrifying tales begin, this one started with a cloying stench that sent even the most steel-stomached people staggering.
Also as in most of these stories, nobody had to look far to figure out the culprit of the smell. Large trash bags revealed the dead bodies of several infants. The bodies were in such poor shape that police were not able to determine a cause of death. They were, however, able to trace the unit to a Winnipeg woman named Andrea Giesbrecht. Through DNA testing, they determined all the babies to be hers. Nobody is certain what her motive for hiding the infants was. However, some speculated that she was really just desperate to keep her pregnancies secret. She was charged for hiding a total of six little bodies.
18. A Murder Scene
When Seattle resident George Gennai found himself the proud owner of a storage unit supposedly brimming with grand treasures, he was not certain what he would find. He was expecting a couple colorful antiques, maybe one or two he could sell for a decent fortune. What he was not expecting to find was a bloody murder scene.
After maneuvering around the mess, Gennai came across a towering heap of clothing and some curious looking plastic. He dug around a bit and chanced upon something even more peculiar and, rather alarming: a trash bag that gave off a formidable smell. He rummaged through the bag and what he found turned his blood cold…
19. A Murder Scene (cont.)
There was no mistaking what George Gennai found in that bag. Its jagged texture and gaping chasms proved to be nothing other than a human skull. Of course, Gennai’s discovery was just the beginning. Little did he know that this story would get even grimmer.
He immediately alerted the police and the investigators found even more gruesome sights in the unit. Before long, they had recovered the remains of an entire family: a mother and her two sons, to be exact. As it so happened, this family had not been heard from since the early 1980s. Closer examination would reveal that the women and two boys sustained severe head injuries. To make matters even worse, police stumbled across a grisly piece of evidence in a locker stowed away in the unit. That piece of evidence was a well-worn hatchet, covered with blood and hair.
20. A Murder Scene (cont.)
Of course, after unveiling something so stomach-turning, police got to work trying to track down the culprit. Although the case had been sitting cold for several decades, one man stood out as a clear suspect: the deceased woman’s ex-husband. It turned out that she was preparing to divorce the man before she and her sons were murdered.
The police apprehended the man, named Mark Bender, and he came clean. In the end, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison. But how did this happen? According to record, the storage unit had been rented out to Mark Bender. Suddenly, payments for the space stopped coming in, which raised some questions. Eventually, the whole thing was simply sold off to a willing buyer, which is where George Gennai came in.
21. A Leg
As dramatic and tragic as the previous story was, it might also strike readers as a once-in-a-lifetime sort of story. After all, who would be so careless as to hide bodies in a storage unit and then stop paying rent? Bizarrely enough, the Bender case was not the first time something so grisly was discovered stashed away in storage. Several such cases have occurred, perhaps more often than anyone would want to imagine.
This next one, while certainly gross, was not the result of any foul play. Some poor soul just happened to be the “lucky” person to stumble upon it, and the man keeping the strange artifact had understandable intentions. Then again, it is certainly not easy to take finding an actual human leg in a storage unit as totally commonplace.
22. A Leg (cont.)
In 2007, a man by the name of Shannon Whisnant won a storage unit in an auction. Excited to explore its mysterious contents, Whisnant got to work and uncovered something that sounds like a scene right out of a low-budget horror flick. At first, Whisnant thought he had just become the proud new owner of a meat smoker. Closer observation revealed that he had another gift awaiting him.
That gift was an actual human leg, and it belonged to a man named John Wood. The story behind it is not actually as gory as you might think. Wood lost the leg in an accident and wanted to keep it someplace safe even though he would never be able to walk on it again. That way, it could be buried with him.
23. Human Ashes
That’s right. The morbid storage sagas continue. This next one? It involves the actual ashes of a deceased person. Fortunately, human ashes do not give off a distinct, putrid smell that can be detected miles away, like dead bodies and mutilated body parts. Still, stumbling upon them in a storage unit is nothing short of unnerving. The man who chanced upon the ashes had been a seasoned storage unit spelunker. Even he was not prepared to find what he did.
That man was Bill Ward. He happened to win an auction for a storage unit of a woman named April Parks. Parks dealt with a lot of elderly people, as a court-appointed guardian. Many of these people anticipated death, leaving Park with many bodies to deal with. She chose a strange way to deal with them: simply by stashing their ashes in her storage unit, watching them amass as the poor families of the deceased wondered what happened to their loved ones remains. Parks also happened to have pretty unsavory motives.
24. Human Ashes (cont.)
The only reason the ashes were ever discovered was because April Parks had been doing time in prison and was as a result, unable to continue payments. Although she was expected to assist the elderly, she did nothing more than exploit them. Specifically, she would deplete their bank accounts over time, as to not draw attention to herself. In total, she pulled in over $500,000 from those who depended on her most.
In the end, April Parks faces a laundry list of charges and additional jail time, as do the people who assisted her in the shameless ploy. She faces decades behind bars and is being charged with perjury, theft, and of course the exploitation of elderly people, just to name a few.
25. Police Gear and Murder Evidence
Who knew that storage units could house so much carnage? Colorado man Rick Ratzlaff certainly didn’t. He won an auction for a storage unit filled with all sorts of police gear. This included everything from police lights to carefully labeled uniforms. There were even some very official court documents scattered in there. Surely Ratzlaff had hit the police gear jackpot–but he perhaps got even more than he bargained for.
As he went from box to box, yielding many treasures along the way, he came across something one would expect to find only on the set of an over-the-top crime show: envelopes boldly identified as evidence. But there was more. Nestled in a box much like the others in the unit were several objects completely soaked in blood. Among this horrifying collection was a rope, an ax, and some socks. But what did it all mean?
26. Police Gear And Murder Evidence (cont.)
As it turned out, Ratzlaff stumbled upon a case that had been pending for quite some time. It was a messy case involving a teenage girl named Candace Hiltz. The Hiltz family, namely Candace’s brother, had a particularly heated run-in with the law. From then on, friction grew between the responding officer and Candace Hiltz, who resented the officer for how he spoke to her brother. What seemed like a minor spat quickly escalated into something much larger.
A couple days after the confrontation, the Hiltz family found their dog brutally murdered in a wooded area near their home. If that doesn’t sound tragic enough, Candace Hiltz’s mother made a devastating discovery when she found her daughter’s body bloody and mutilated in a bedroom. The killer was never tracked down; however, the materials uncovered from the storage unit helped police better understand what might have gone down on that fateful day. The police officer who had access to the sensitive evidence was penalized.
27. Another Dead Body?
This family, fortunately, did not have to stumble upon a body themselves; instead, they uncovered the morbid secret while sitting at their dying mother’s side. In 2012, Bobbie Bennett Hancock of Florida enjoyed her final moments with those she loved most. Before she passed, however, she confessed to something unusual: that her mother’s body was presently resting in a storage unit.
The woman, Anne Bunch, had died while in a nursing home. Hancock resolved to bury her mother herself to ensure that she received a proper sending off. However, she encountered too many obstacles along the way and decided that the storage unit would make a fair temporary holding place for the body.
28. A Meth Lab
Breaking Bad has given the general public an idea of what the average meth lab looks like: overall barren, sometimes dilapidated but strangely put together, surgical almost. Meth labs also tend to be situated in places that can be carefully monitored, grant limited access, and have plenty of room to get the job done. Maybe it only makes sense that someone would try to convert a storage unit into one.
This meth lab was unveiled when two brothers in California purchased the storage unit housing it. Hoping to come across all sorts of treasures to sell, they instead met suspicious container after suspicious container marked with bold warning labels. Some might shrug off these warnings. However, the two men took them seriously, a fortunate decision. Even so, they did carefully examined the loot just to see what they were dealing with.
29. A Meth Lab (cont.)
What the brothers found was nothing short of shocking. The gear was all there and ready to be used: various pipes and instruments, some beakers, and of course gas masks. Naturally, they alerted the authorities who were able to confirm that the equipment was not just for show.
In fact, the supplies were so authentic that it would have been very unwise to handle them without the proper safety gear. As a result, men thoroughly suited up reported to the scene to get cleaning up. In the process, they found a considerable amount of the drug in question. Police have still not found the industrial masterminds.
30. A Burglar
Well, you have read plenty about all the dead people that have been found in storage units. But what about the living? Certainly, an unsuspecting soul has encountered someone in a storage unit who just was not supposed to be there. Such has certainly happened. And as you can imagine, when someone is caught in a storage unit that does not belong to them, they are up to no good.
Ronald R. Dennis was a stealthy storage unit burglar–or so he thought until he was caught red-handed in 2011. On this particular occasion, he chose to target a seemingly lucrative storage unit in St. Joseph, Missouri. He managed to pilfer quite a few goods until one alert security guard realized something seemed off. He approached the storage unit that Dennis had chosen at the time and slammed the door shut, leaving him trapped inside. Although he tried to flee, police got there in time and were able to deal with Dennis accordingly.
31. A Very Valuable and Old Grand Piano
Pianos are elegant instruments. Yet their ivory keys and gleaming surfaces take up a lot of room. As you can imagine, grand pianos are also quite pricey. Barry Weiss of Storage Wars thought he just blew couple hundred dollars on neat but ultimately useless junk until he stumbled upon the gorgeous instrument.
It took some digging to uncover, believe it or not. Surrounding it was a sea of old salon equipment. Once Weiss stumbled upon the piano, however, he struck it pretty big. In the end, he was able to sell the piano for over $11,500. The best part? He spent only $275 on the whole unit.
32. French Wine
Even when it is not worth several hundred dollars, anyone would consider stumbling upon some wine a win. Of course, a steep price tag may sweeten the deal, even if it means having to forgo a drink. Then again, it is unlikely that the lucky group of friends would want to toast to a glass of this wine considering its age and the rich history that comes with that.
The storage unit, located in England, cost the trio just over $300, or 250 British pounds. When they went to explore it, they found some worthwhile treasures. Not only was there some gold and silver but also an untouched bottle of old French wine, dating back to 1943.
33. A Vintage Harley-Davidson Motorcycle
It’s never a bad day to find a motorcycle just waiting to be claimed, most would agree. It is even better when that motorcycle is a very rare 8-valve racer that dates all the way back to 1927. This is exactly what happened in Melbourne, Australia. This neat motorcycle sat collecting dust for half a century.
Fortunately, the Harley was able to see the light in 2015. Not only is it a 1927 model that few have ever seen before, it also came equipped with its own sidecar. As you can imagine, it was a sought-after find. Someone eagerly grabbed it up at auction for the price of $424k.
34. All Things Beach Boys
The Beach Boys made their first big splash in 1961. Since then, they have moved people to hum along to feel-good tunes that never fail to put one in the mood for sunnier weather. Even today, they continue to tour, their legacy enduring. As it turned out, a large portion of their legacy remained stored away in a unit in Florida.
A local radio station paid about $300 for the storage unit, likely not expecting anything mind-blowingly amazing. Nonetheless, the crew was delighted to find a treasure trove of all things related to the Beach Boys. These things included handwritten lyrics and never-before-seen photographs. The collection was so valuable and extensive that the Beach Boys themselves actually fought a tough legal battle to get it all back. Ultimately, it all sold for a stunning $6 million.
35. The Original Superman Comic
Vintage comics always seem to strike a chord with avid antique collectors. Perhaps it is because of the nostalgia they invoke. Maybe it is just because people really love their superheroes. In any case, one California man knew something valuable had fallen into his hands when he purchased a storage unit containing a very special comic.
That comic was no other than the very first Superman comic ever to see the light of day. That in and of itself is newsworthy. However, the story gets even crazier. The comic book actually already belonged to someone, specifically actor Nicolas Cage. In 1995, he had purchased the comic book for a price nearing $1 million. Sadly, someone had stolen it from him, and it just so happened to end up in that storage locker. But the story has a happy ending. Cage and his comic book were happily reunited, after more than a decade apart.
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