Man Finds Old Wild West Photo, Sees Familiar Face
Randy had never been a hero, but he had fought for this moment for years. And he wasn’t prepared to back down now. Not after everything he’d lost to get here. It was him against The Man.
For five years he’d struggled to make them believe. He’d been called a liar, a fraudster, a cheat — eking out an existence even though he knew this old photograph was the most important discovery in American history. Would he be vindicated today?
Randy Guijarro didn’t believe in luck. He knew that if you wanted something in life, you had to work hard for it. He learned that from his mother and father. As the youngest in the family of six, he took pride in all of his belongings.
Ever since he was a child, Randy would pick up pennies from the street, scrap from the yard, and shiny buttons from corners. He was a magpie for even dull items. His mother nicknamed him “the hoarder” when he was seven.
As the years passed, Randy’s mother thought his fascination with junk would pass. To her horror, his obsession only grew. Understandably, she was worried. And she was right to be.
Randy’s house became a labyrinth of coins, books, comics, statues, paintings, clocks, trading cards, toys, stamps, and jewelry. To his family, his possessions were junk. But he was about to prove everyone wrong.
Randy managed to make a living by selling the treasures he scavenged. Everything he owned had a story to it. But then, he met Linda. When they decided to move in together, he made a promise to cut back on the collecting.
But old habits were hard to shake. He never thought that one decision would make such an impact on his life—and rock the western world in the process.
On a fateful day in 2010, Randy found himself in the Fresno Tower District after meeting a friend for coffee. As he walked down the street, he passed the red brick building of Fulton’s Folly Antique Collective.
He had promised Linda he wouldn’t bring home anything else before selling the contents of their “spare bedroom.” But he told himself that he would be in and out in ten minutes, and walked inside.
Randy strolled through aisles of treasures. The store was like Mary Poppin’s magic bag—pianos, armchairs, cabinets, sculptures, china, pottery, jewels, paintings, radios, crystal, records, dolls, prams, figures, board games, baskets.
Randy had never seen such a collection. And Randy just happened to be in the right place, at exactly the right time.
Remembering His Promise
He picked up multiple items to inspect, but once he remembered the promise he had made to Linda, he placed them back.
He wandered through the treasure trove and resolved to keep his composure. Then, he saw something out their back door that made his eyes widen, and he just couldn’t resist.
Outside, two men were shaking hands. Had they closed a deal? As Randy walked towards them, he noticed that they were surrounded by stacks of cardboard boxes.
From the looks of the different sizes, it was a blind buy. Randy knew that there may be a gem hidden inside, and a wave of excitement washed over him.
Too Good To Resist
The store was clearly overstocked and the owner probably needed to get rid of some items fast. The buyers only had a limited amount of time to inspect the contents before bidding, and Randy simply couldn’t let them walk away.
Randy was a friendly guy. Although they had placed the highest bid, he was feeling brave.
“Would you mind if I had a quick look?” Randy asked. To his surprise, the men had heard of Randy from the online antique community. So, they let him rummage through the boxes before loading them into their truck.
Nothing really stood out to Randy, but he kept looking—hoping that his keen eyes would catch a glimpse of something that others had missed. And his intuition proved to be right.
He didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, but he reasoned that he would recognize it when he saw it. Then, he found a small cardboard box. His hands shook as he gently lifted the lid.
He never could have imagined that this ordinary-looking box was hiding one of the most important discoveries in American history.
Although Linda asked for Randy to ease off on his antiques, she was a sucker for a good photograph. The box contained three old black and white photographs.
One man looked vaguely familiar, but Randy couldn’t immediately put his finger on it. And he didn’t have time to dwell on it—he just knew that he had to have them.
He reached for his wallet just as the men loaded the last few boxes. To his horror, he only had $2.
Thankfully the men, thinking nothing of the old photographs, accepted the small payment and wished him a good day. Randy and his wife Linda were about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Linda was horrified when Randy presented her with the three pictures. “How much did this cost you?” Her brow furrowed. When Randy told her what had happened, she gawked and looked closer.
“You do realize who this is?” She asked. If she was right, this photograph would be worth millions! And then, Randy saw it. That unmistakable face staring back at him.
Linda and Randy arranged a meeting with a local historian to inspect the faces. The historian said that the pictures were from the 19th-Century. Randy wasn’t surprised—the images were obviously dated. Then Linda voiced what they had only dared to dream.
She pointed to the man standing in the middle of the group of people playing croquet in the photograph and whispered: “Billy the Kid”.
Billy the Kid is one of the most well-known figures of the American Wild West. He was one of the most wanted men in Arizona after being involved in multiple homicides.
The outlaw managed to outrun the sheriffs and escape multiple prisons over four years until he was eventually shot at the age of 21. Unsurprisingly, he was famous among cowboy enthusiasts. But there was only one authentic photo of him ever found. Until now.
Randy made sure to do his research. He discovered that the last original photograph of Billy—the famous Upham tintype—was bought by collector Bill Koch at an auction in 2011 for a staggering 2.3 million dollars.
But with no proof of who the photographer had been and the circumstances around the photo, Linda and Randy had no proof that it was genuine. But, they were determined.
Many collectors refused to believe that the photograph was genuine. Linda was disheartened. She had already planned on redoing their home. Now, that seemed impossible.
She was sure it was him from the moment she laid eyes on the photos, and other faces in the photographs were familiar, too. Randy and Linda were convinced that the photograph depicted Billy and his gang, The Regulators, playing croquet. But could it really be possible?
Randy and Linda had to do some more digging into the history of the photograph before they released their findings to the public. Over the course of a year, they had gotten many different opinions from experts, but some were skeptical.
Then, they took the photo to Witherell’s Old West Show in Northern California’s Grass Valley and were told what they had feared all along.
While searching for Brian Libel, the man who originally brokered the deal on the only other photograph of Billy the Kid ever found, another expert stepped in and wrote Randy and Linda’s photo off as a fake, stating that there was no proof pointing to its authenticity.
Randy and Linda were heartbroken, but they were still convinced that they possessed a piece of history. But then, something changed everything.
Linda and Randy’s photograph had captured the attention of Jeff Aiello, local film and TV producer, and he was intrigued. What if this photo was, in fact, genuine, and had passed under the radar of the experts?
He knew that the two experts in the field who had examined it had only given it a passing glance before hastily labeling it as a fraud. Still, there was a glimmer of hope: What if they were all wrong?
“I told Randy to let me have the picture. My wife, Jill, is a fantastic researcher,’ Aiello said. “We did photo overlays and all kinds of fancy computer stuff and dove into the history.
After a month, we were both confident that was a photo of Billy and four of the ‘Regulators.’” Now, they had to prove it to the world.
A Massive Undertaking
National Geographic took on the million-dollar project, with Aiello at the helm. The funds enabled him to conduct further research to prove that the photograph was genuine, and land Kevin Costner as the narrator of the 2-hour special.
Aiello placed Randy’s fight against the corrupt process of authenticating historic material at the fore. Randy and Linda had almost given up hope, but by the end of shooting, even Costner believed.
Randy and Linda set out to visit all the known landmarks associated with Billy the Kid. One of the figures in the photograph had been identified as Sallie Chisum, with an 80% match on facial recognition software.
Then, they found the breakthrough they had all been waiting for—written in Sally Chisum’s diary.
Randy and Linda had now traveled 10,000 miles over four states to prove that their find was genuine. With money running out quickly, they prayed that their last stop would be in New Mexico.
All clues pointed to Tunstall’s ranch—There was evidence in Sally Chisum’s diary that she, The Regulators, and Billy the Kid himself had gathered there. But would this be the end of Randy and Linda’s journey?
Randy stared in disbelief at the familiar landscape. All his hopes and dreams lay here, on this tract of land. He believed with all his heart that Billy the Kid had been here. And now, he was vindicated. He could almost see the ghostly figures standing there, framed by the rolling hills.
With the help of Geographic mapping, the exact location where the photo was shot was finally found. Randy and Linda, feeling like they had finally won the battle, returned to California. But they were wrong.
A Firm “No”
Don Kagen’s partner flew toTunstall’s Ranch and traveled to the spot where the photo was taken. He noticed that there were signs of another structure underneath the new building, exactly where the house in the photograph would have been.
He was then able to recreate the house on advanced software. They didn’t need more convincing. They set the base price at $5 million for the photo. Linda couldn’t believe their hard work had finally paid off! But this wasn’t the first case of a hidden treasure.
Shows like American Pickers and The Antique Roadshow have managed to turn dusty junk into thousands in cash. The viewers for these shows range from young to old, enticing the widest age demographic imaginable.
Everyone loves a good bargain. But a large fortune hidden in the form of your grandmother’s vase is everyone’s dream. So, the internet couldn’t get enough of Randy’s story.
Understandably, Randy’s discovery went viral before he caught the attention of National Geographic. The entire world is now keeping an eye out for any hidden gems that could later gain them a small fortune.
But Randy has spent years researching to get to his level of expertise. And not everyone would be so lucky as to buy pictures for $2 that were worth $5 million. But there is one question left to this story.
“I hope this prompts others out there to look into trucks and attics,” Randy shared, “because there are so many lost treasures out there!” If this had taught Randy anything, it’s to listen to his gut, and more importantly, to trust his wife!
But the story doesn’t end there. Another photograph of Billy The Kid has been found since the National Geographic documentary aired.
Could It Really Be?
As he began inspecting what he’d won, his eyes fell on an old brown leather wallet. At first, he thought nothing of it, but when he started to rifle through the contents his eyes widened in disbelief.
The face in the photograph looked familiar…could that really be who he thought it was?
Storage Unit Treasure
Anton Lulgjuraj waited with sweaty palms while the bids increased. He had just become comfortable bidding on abandoned storage lockers and the thrill of the gamble made his heart race.
The excitement of taking a risk and bidding on a container when he didn’t have a clue as to what was inside was exhilarating. Anton hadn’t always been a treasure hunter, though.
Anton was living in New York when his dreams came true and he inherited his father’s factory. It wasn’t just any factory, it was a candy factory.
After running the store for many years, the Elk Candy Company sadly had to close its doors in 2006. This led Anton to pursue a new hobby: bidding on abandoned storage containers.
The sale of the contents of a storage unit goes like this: if the original owner fails to pay the rental on a storage container for a certain amount of time, the debt is written off and the contents of the entire container are sold to the highest bidder.
The prospective buyers have a few minutes to quickly glance inside before the bidding starts, but you just never know what you’ll find. For some reason, Anton was feeling lucky on this particular day.
Anton knew the risk–he could lose a lot of money on this particular unit. But he wasn’t about to give this one up. You see, he had briefly spied something he desperately wanted, pushed up against the back of the container.
It was old and rusted, but Anton had been lucky before. As the bids rose higher, he couldn’t help but wonder if his luck was about to run out.
An Old Bike
This storage container was previously owner by a man named David Parent, who had flown for the U.S. Air Force. Anton had a hunch that there would be something interesting inside, and he was right.
He spotted the old motorcycle and knew he had to have it. He furiously upped his bid until his competitors bottomed out, and when he won, he couldn’t contain his excitement.
Eager to inspect his treasure, Anton climbed inside and began to rummage. He felt just like he had all those years ago–a kid in a candy store. One by one, he opened boxes, but when he saw the old yellow documents his heart started to fall.
Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to have blown his savings on this container…had he lost his touch? But then, something caught his eye.
An Old Wallet
Inside a dusty old wooden box was an old brown billfold wallet. Nothing spectacular or unusual, but when he opened it up the contents took his breath away.
Inside were some old and faded photographs, Anton could tell that they were old, but just how old? And more importantly, who had the wallet belonged to? The next item he found was the first piece of the puzzle.
There was an old license that had been issued in 1969 inside the old wallet, and there was a name, Diane Hall. The name didn’t ring any bells for Anton, but he had a nagging feeling that he had seen the woman in the photograph before.
He scrabbled to look through all the photos in the wallet again, and it started to slowly dawn on him that he may just have found something mind-blowing.
A Familiar Face
He still couldn’t place this face, but he knew that he recognized it. He wracked his brain until he found it. He had seen that movie dozens of times–it was his favorite. He had seen this famous face in The Godfather.
But could it really be? Anton kept digging, and to his amazement, the next item he pulled out was the smoking gun that confirmed all his suspicions.
There was an Actor’s Equity Association membership card, and lo and behold, it had the name on the tip of his tongue written on it in black ink. The gravity of Anton’s find started to hit him hard.
Not only was this wallet over 50 years old, but it also belonged to one of the most acclaimed actresses of the 20th Century.
A Time Capsule
The name on the membership card read ‘Diane Keaton’, and was dated 1968. Anton couldn’t believe what he had found in an abandoned storage locker, where it had been hidden for over 50 years!
What incredible luck! He had stumbled on an incredibly rare time capsule, and it could be worth a fortune to boot. But just who is Diane Keaton?
The Academy Award-winning actress was born Diane Hall in 1946, but when she registered at the Actors’ Equity Association she found out that someone else had already registered with that name.
Soon after, she legally changed her surname to Keaton and the rest, as they say, is history. But what did Anton decide to do with his rare and totally unexpected treasure?
A Glimpse Into Her Life
“I was so curious. It was like a time capsule,” Anton said later in an interview. Then, he went on to describe some of the other photos of Diane Keaton that he’d found. One caught his attention immediately.
It was a snapshot of a couple holding hands on the beach, and it afforded Anton a rare glimpse into the famous actress’ life. “It’s such a nice shot, really classic. You look at it and get a good feeling.” Incidentally, this wasn’t the first time Anton had found a celebrity’s belongings in an old storage container!
In 2016, Anton had been lucky enough to purchase an old unit that had belonged to Keith Diamond. Inside, he had found an original recording of singer Donna Summer, as well as photos of Diamond pictured with Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson.
But he never could have expected what would unfold on Twitter when he shared the news about Diane Keaton’s old wallet.
What To Do With It?
“I opened it up and thought, ‘Is this Diane Keaton, the actress? It couldn’t be. Or maybe it could,’” Anton said later about his rare find. But he had bigger aspirations for the old wallet than making a profit from it–which would undoubtedly have fetched a high price from the right collector.
No, Anton’s intentions were far nobler. So what did he decide to do?
Taking To Twitter
“Hi, I bought a storage unit at auction, and in there I found a wallet and your driver’s license and photos from the 1960s [and] 1970s. If you have any interest in this, you can have it back,” Anton tweeted to Keaton.
Unsurprisingly, Keaton didn’t respond to his friendly message. Meanwhile, The New York Daily News also tried to contact her, but they too were unsuccessful.
“Maybe she remembers that lost wallet and has always wondered. I’m hoping she didn’t lose faith,” Anton said, hoping to reunite the wallet with its rightful owner after half a century had passed.
Chances were slim that Keaton would eventually respond, but one day something remarkable happened, and Anton’s persistence finally paid off.
“If she wants it, I’m happy to send it. I figured [she] would want it. These are her memories,” he added. And just two days after his interview with The New York Daily News, Diane Keaton responded on Twitter.
“I don’t remember losing this, but I’m not surprised, because I’ve lost my wallet many times,” she wrote. Anton was thrilled to get the response and promptly mailed the wallet back to her. “Hopefully the mail won’t lose it for another 50 years,” he joked.
“I’m just really happy that she’s going to get [her wallet] back,” Anton explained. “I’m actually happy to send it away. It sounds like she really does appreciate it,” he added. “To see something you haven’t seen in that long – the nostalgia gives you such a good feeling.
These were happy times in the photographs.” Shortly afterward, Keaton posted one of the old photographs on Instagram with the caption “This photo was in [the wallet], I’m on the far right. Can you believe those bangs?”
They began to demolish the building, tearing down walls and floorboards until they reached the far wall that was lined with old wooden cabinets. As they broke through them one by one, they saw something that didn’t belong. It was small and made from black fabric, wedged behind.
They lifted another board, and then another until one of them could reach inside to pull the mysterious object out. It was an old purse! When they looked inside, everybody was floored.
Jeffersonville High School
Workers were well into the demolition of Jeffersonville High School in Indiana when they stumbled upon the incredible find.
The building had been there for decades, and now it was time for a complete remodel to make way for a new elementary school. The workers went about their day as usual, but nobody ever expected to find a mystery that day.
Amid the rubble and rotting wood behind the old built-in cabinets was a time capsule. The old clutch purse they pulled out was in amazing condition.
It was an ordinary-looking purse, but when they opened it up and looked inside, they realized that the purse’s contents were far from ordinary.
An Old Purse
The room the workers were demolishing had been an old science classroom. Hundreds of high school children had learned about life, love, and the Periodic Table of Elements within its four crumbling walls.
And the owner of the purse was one of them. But who did it belong to? They started to rifle through the purse’s contents, and they didn’t disappoint.
Kevin Moran and Mike Hobbs recalled later: “We didn’t know if somebody had stolen it and gotten rid of it; there’s no telling what the back story is,” he said.
“We couldn’t figure out how it even got back there, unless it slipped in behind the lockers or something. You could tell it had been there a long time, that’s for sure.”
Inside the purse was an old pin, carefully kept in its cotton-lined box. Then, they found a well-loved lipstick in a striking shade of coral.
Whoever the purse belonged to was definitely a young lady, they concluded. But the most tantalizing find was still to come.
They found an old bus schedule for Charlestown, and a first-place ribbon for the mile relay, but it was the date on the bottom of the ribbon that made the workers take a double-take.
That was when they truly realized that what they held in their hands was none other than a precious glimpse into a high school girl’s world, so long ago.
The date on the ribbon read 1954, and the workers were astounded to realize that the purse was over 60 years old! Most surprisingly, all its contents were perfectly preserved and intact.
They kept pulling item after item out of the clutch purse, and their astonishment only grew and grew.
There were old and faded photographs, a basketball schedule for the 1953-1954 school year, clippings of 1954 newspaper articles, Juicy Fruit wrappers, and a wallet with a Social Security card and ID.
The mystery owner’s name finally came to light: Martha Ina Ingham. But it was the letters inside the purse that stirred the most attention.
A Love Letter
One heartfelt letter read: ‘Dear Marty, I’ve heard that Paul has asked you to go to the prom with him — if he hasn’t I would like very much to take you. P.S. If you have already consented to go with Paul, please forget that I have asked.
If he has asked, but you haven’t consented yet, please consider my invitation. Love, “Torchy”‘. There was also a second letter.
The second letter was from a boy named “Carter”, where he explains: “Bobbie and I aren’t going back together.
I’m just continuing to walk her to classes…I am just going to date everybody and be friends with everybody.” It ends with, “I think Paul is an alright guy. But you’ll never catch him, he runs too fast. Ha! Ha!”
The Search Begins
Erin Bojorquez, the spokeswoman for Greater Clark County Schools, was alerted to the amazing discovery and its contents.
She immediately took to social media to try to locate Martha Ina Ingham, the purse’s owner. Facebook was abuzz with the discovery, but netizens seemed to have one burning question.
The Burning Question
Everyone wanted to know who Martha had gone with to prom all those years ago, and more importantly, if she had eventually married one of her suitors!
People shared the Facebook post furiously in hopes of getting an answer to the question posed in the 65-year old letter. So, who had Martha decided to go to prom with? Will we ever know?
The evidence was all right there, inside the old purse. There was a photograph of Martha with an unidentified man at her prom. But who was it? Was it Paul, Carter, or “Torchy”?
Everyone waited with bated breath to see if she would be found. But 65 years is a long time…she must be in her 80’s by now. Then, one day, something incredible happened.
“Jeffersonville is a small city in Indiana, so I posted the photograph on our social media sites thinking she would still reside locally or have family still in the area.
I’m thankful for the power of social media and for everyone that shared our post as it led me to connect with Marty’s son,” Erin Bojorquez said in an interview.
Alive And Well
And even more surprising, Martha was found alive and well, living 1,000 miles away in sunny Florida! “I’m thrilled that I was able to locate Marty.
I hope this little piece of history brings back fond memories of her years at Jeffersonville High School. The purse was mailed to her yesterday,” Erin explained.
“We hope to answer the community’s question, and now the nation’s question, soon about who took Marty to prom,” she added wryly.
Finally, the big question that netizens have been clamboring for the answer to can be answered by Martha herself. She looks through her old purse with tears in her eyes, and a wide smile on her face.
A Life She’d Forgotten About
Marty Ingham, now Marty Everett, reveals all. “It brings back a lot of memories and a lot of people I haven’t heard of in a long time,” Marty told Inside Edition.
“What a good time we had in high school…really interesting to me…things about my life that I’d forgotten about.”
A Different Time
When Martha read the letters, she was astounded to find them intact from 65 years earlier. “If you think about it, these boys wrote letters and you would never see that today.
They would text you, you know, so that’s such a big difference,” she said. And then she answered the question on everyone’s lips.
The Answer, Finally
Martha revealed that it was Carter she went to her senior prom with, the same boy who had written the letter explaining that he wanted to ‘date everyone’! Finally, the answer everyone had been waiting for.
And what an incredible story, could you imagine finding a perfectly preserved time capsule behind an old cabinet?