WINK News and Call For Action have solved an emotional four year mystery that had many across the country talking last week. It involves a small, blue wedding album filled with 185 photographs of a Marine and his new wife. They were married on Sanibel Island in December 2007, only for their album to be accidentally left behind at Southwest Florida International Airport a few weeks later.
Within 24 hours of our report, we learned the identities of the couple: Michael and Jessica Heavilon, now living in Alexandria, Virginia. Life has changed a lot since their wedding day. Michael is out of the Marines, and the couple has moved far from their families in Indiana to suburban Washington, DC. They have 16-month-old daughter and are expecting twins this summer.
WINK News invited the woman who saved the album to come along for the reunion, and to meet the family she'd only known in photographs. Patricia Fitch was working at the airport when the album came to the Lost & Found. Months went by with no owner coming forward, and the photos were in danger of being tossed into the trash. That didn't sit well with Patricia, who decided to take it home and try to find the couple on her own.
The Heavilons say they made repeated calls to find the album - including calls to RSW airport. But after six months with no leads, they assumed it was gone for good.
Little did they know it was in Patricia's hands. She spent much of the next four years scouring the album for clues. There were many, but none that gave her a name. It wasn't until she contacted WINK News' Cayle Thompson that the mystery quickly began to unfold.
Within days, the Heavilon's had their album back, and got the chance to meet Patricia.
"I feel like I've known them forever," Patricia said. "It's like the photos have come to life."
"This reminds me that there's good in others out there," Jessica Heavilon said. "Think of others; be a diehard person; don't give up. Those are things I want to teach my daughter, and Patricia is part of that now."
Jessica's father, Pastor Ray "Bud" Probasco, says he'll never live down the fact he wore a Buffalo Bills jersey to his daughter's wedding. He actually roots for the Indianapolis Colts, but donned the Bills jersey on that one occasion as a way of welcoming Michael - an avid Bills fan - into the family.
While many of the photographs were able to be duplicated, several dozen - taken by Jessica's mother - were one-of-a-kind. The family is now finally able to see some of those pictures for the first time.
The Heavilon's say the photographs will stay out for guests and friends to see, and they say Patricia will forever hold a special spot in the album she helped save.
Click here to read the original story, wherein WINK News asks for the public's help in solving the mystery.
Click here to read what happened when WINK News got in touch with the Heavilons.