Family who had everything stolen in move to KC gets an Easter weekend surprise

Family loses everything after U-Haul is stolen from hotel parking lot

Paul Holmes and his wife, Sabrina Holmes, were moving to Kansas City with their two sons, Josiah, 11, and John, 7, when a U-Haul filled with all their belongings was stolen from a hotel parking lot in Kansas City.
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Paul Holmes and his wife, Sabrina Holmes, were moving to Kansas City with their two sons, Josiah, 11, and John, 7, when a U-Haul filled with all their belongings was stolen from a hotel parking lot in Kansas City.

Sabrina Holmes was joyous on Good Friday, reaching into a bag of her family’s belongings slathered in mud.

“We just opened up the first garbage bags. Right now I’m looking at stuff that was left in the mud and the rain,” she said. “I see a necklace right now from when I lived in Kenya. Oh, I see one of my hair bows. I wonder where my wedding dress is?”

On April 4, Holmes, along with her husband, Paul and their two children, John and Josiah, had just moved to Kansas City, days from moving into their new home. Not 24 hours later, they looked outside their Days Inn, at 8601 Hillcrest Road off Interstate 435, and were shocked to discover that the U-Haul that contained all their worldly possessions, with their Nissan Leaf attached to the back, had been stolen.

On Thursday night, the U-Haul, their car and at least some of their belongings, much of it scattered in the muddy woods six miles away, had been found recovered by the Kansas City police. Acting on an anonymous tip, officers from the police’s South Patrol searched the woods off Bannister and Norfleet roads.

They found the U-Haul and the family’s car there several hundred feet off the road.

“Much of the contents of the U-Haul were strewn about the area in the woods and the family car was taken apart in many pieces and several parts were missing,” Kansas City Police Sgt. Jake Becchina said in a release. “Extensive crime scene processing took place last (Thursday) night and into this morning to collect evidence that will hopefully lead detectives to the suspects. Detectives remained at the scene last night and into this morning helping the victim piece together whatever he could from what was left.”

All City Tow used several cranes and winches to wrest the truck and trailer from the woods, police said.

The Holmes family were called to the scene Thursday night. On Friday, they had only begun to figure how much of their belongings remained.

“I’d rather have my stuff soaked in mud, than not at all,” Sabrina Holmes said.

When news of the Holmes plight broke, the family received a massive outpouring of support. More than $13,000 has poured into a GoFundMe page set up by the family’s real estate agent, Valerie Fargas.

Donations from strangers practically furnished their new home in South Kansas City. Strangers brought the family food. The boys were given bicycles.

“I tell everyone that the people of Kansas City are amazing,” Fargas said. “I believe they got every bit of furniture they needed. There was clothing. There was just everything.”

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An anonymous tip led police to a wooded area off Bannister and Norfleet roads, where they found the Holmes family’s stolen U-Haul and car and their possessions strewn about. Kansas City Police Department

Sabrina Holmes said that most important to her are those things that are irreplaceable, such as her family photographs, a blanket made by her grandmother, her children’s artwork. Paul Holmes had hauled an inventory of circuit board and small motors in the truck, the product of his start-up business. Sabrina Holmes said all of the motors were recovered except for a prototype.

The family had canceled their home owners insurance prior to taking possession of their new house, and thus were not insured for the theft.

“I’m looking forward to see what’s in the truck,” Sabrina Holmes said.

The response the family received from Kansas Citians, she said, was overwhelming.

“I always find that loved people love well,” she said. “I think there are a lot of people here who know they are loved. They sure did love us very well.”

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All City Tow helped police by using cranes and winches to pull the stolen U-Haul out of the woods. Kansas City Police Department

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Eric Adler has won more than 50 state and national journalism awards for his reporting that often tell the extraordinary tales of ordinary people. A graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in NY, he teaches journalism ethics at the University of Kansas.