TUPELO – A half-ton meteorite that mysteriously disappeared last year from downtown’s Leake & Goodlett store returned Thursday morning on a flat-bed truck.
But its whereabouts these past 12 months remain an enigma – as do the person or people who stole the space rock.
“We got a phone call on Nov. 19 from a person who claimed to have possession of the meteorite and wanted to get it back to us,” said Lindsey Leake, who owns the building supply store with father, Rob Leake.
It was Nov. 19, 2008, when the rock was stolen from its pedestal outside the store, which straddles the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks crossing Main Street.
“The person said we could get it back if it would remain anonymous and if we’d agree not to prosecute,” Leake explained. “We said OK.”
Two weeks passed, but no rock. Leake said he and his family began to worry the call was a hoax; it wouldn’t have been the first time.
But a truck arrived Thursday with the meteorite secured tightly in a wooden box. It was dropped off, no questions asked.
“I was ecstatic,” Leake said. “Dad told me, ‘Santa Claus has come.’ So yeah, Christmas did come a little early this year.”
Word spread quickly. Leake has been taking phone calls all day from people who’d heard the famous rock returned.
“We’ve always considered it the community’s property,” he said.
The meteorite was discovered in 1870 by Tupelo’s first mayor, H.C. “Major” Medford, and has always been displayed publicly.
It had sat outside Leake & Goodlett since about 1965, but now Leake said he’s not sure what to do with it.
It will go somewhere public, he said, but not in the previous spot.
“We obviously don’t want a repeat,” he said.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal