Running Out Of Time

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 9:42am

Dying vet vows to return mysterious stolen tombstone to woman's family.

A Jacksonville, Florida veteran dying of cancer is determined to find the answer to a more than 20-year-old mystery.

Years ago a heavy reminder of one woman's life and death showed up right outside Earnest Luttrell's door and time to return it to its rightful owner is ticking away.

"It's stuck with me and stuck with me," he said. "No answers whatsoever."

It's a headstone for a Mattie L. Metcalf, born June 8, 1872, died October 19, 1930.

The square, heavy piece of marble has troubled Luttrell for two decades.

"Just about every day or every other day, I think about that headstone," said Luttrell. "There's somebody out there that deserves a headstone that doesn't have it."

The gravestone was left by some mischievous teenagers, he said.

"Walking down the road...they just threw it down," said Luttrell.

For a long time, Luttrell thought it was just a concrete block the teens dropped outside his home.

"I finally came out here and scraped it up and it was a headstone," he said.

Since that discovery, he's been searching, asking neighbors and even putting up flyers to find out who Metcalf is.

"I did everything I could do. I walked and looked," he said.

Luttrell said time is now of the essence.

He has cancer and said he's not sure how much longer he will be around, so the stone is a priority.

"It's on my list to get that stone to who it belongs to," said Luttrell.

Someone out there knows they have an ancestor by this name, he said.

An answer would bring much relief to Luttrell.

"It'll get a block off my chest," he said, ending a very long mystery and getting Metcalf's stone where it belongs.

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