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23 years later, 'new' gun works just fine

By Janice Morse

October 4, 2010

OXFORD TWP. – After a wait of nearly 23 years, Ralph Rud finally got to try out his "new" gun.

Rud, now 47 and living in Indiana, bought the .45-caliber Colt 1911 pistol when he was 24 years old - only to have it stolen in a Butler County burglary before he had the chance to fire it even once.

"It's something I never thought I'd see again," Rud said.

He and the gun were reunited recently when he picked it up from police in Oxford Township. He was living on Contreras Road there when the Colt and six other guns were stolen Oct. 5, 1987, 23 years ago.

As The Enquirer previously reported, authorities found Rud's gun in a pawn shop in Lakewood, Wash. - about 2,300 miles away - with no idea of its whereabouts or uses in the interim.

Police in Lakewood, learned the firearm had been stolen from Ohio after entering its serial number into a computer service called LeadsOnline. That service allows police to compare data from pawn shops and other businesses against data stored in the National Crime Information Center computer (NCIC). That's where the serial number of Rud's guns, including the Colt, were entered the day after he reported his burglary.

Police in Lakewood confirmed the serial-number match with Oxford Township Police Chief Michael Goins - who happened to be the officer who filled out the original burglary report back when he was a patrolman.

Several months later, Goins received the gun from Washington. On Sept. 13, Rud went to the Oxford Township police station, signed some property-release paperwork and picked up the gun.

He noted it had undergone somewhat of a makeover during its long, mysterious journey away from him. "They changed the grips on it," he said.

Rud went home to his farm near Connersville, Ind., that afternoon, set up a target - a hunk of old wood - took aim, and fired. Splinters flew; Rud couldn't help but grin a little.

"It was good to see," he said. "After all this time, it worked like it was supposed to work - and it hit what I aimed at."

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