Shrub Thief Returns Flowers He Stole for Mother's Day 54 Years Later

His guilty conscience weighed heavily after half a century

Monday, May 14, 2012  |  Updated 6:42 AM EDT
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A Kentucky man who pilfered two potted hydrangeas from a Nashville park has returned the plants — 54 years later.

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No matter how much digging investigators did, the crime remained open until a thief turned himself in and returned the fruits of his theft.

In this case, the crime was stealing two hydrangeas in May 1958 from Centennial Park in Nashville. And the thief, 72-year-old Bill Teitleff of Joy, Ky., returned plants from the root system of the purloined flowers to the park on Thursday.

Teitliff told Nashville's NBC affiliate WSMV-TV he took the flowering plant because he didn't have enough money at the time to buy a Mother's Day gift for his mother. At the time of the theft, Teitleff was 18 years old and just married.

Eventually, the past caught up with Teitleff and he didn't like how it felt.

"This doesn't clear what I did. That's between me and him," he told WSMV, pointing to the sky. "But this is between me and the people here at the park, and they've accepted wholeheartedly."

Teitleff says he can now walk through Centennial Park without feeling guilty.

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