Yesterday, the IndyStar published a heartbreaking tale about a 94-year-old man left without any apparent recourse after his 1967 Ford Mustang went missing for over four years, along with thousands of dollars he spent to have it restored.
The victim – one Harry Donovan – bought his ’67 Ford Mustang convertible back in 1969, and for the next 40 years, it ran without any major issues. But, Mr. Donovan decided that he wanted the pony car restored to showroom condition, so he turned to a mechanic named Dennis E. Lee, who’d worked on Donovan’s vehicles before. Mr. Lee produced a quote substantially lower than the other shops Mr. Donovan had contacted, so on December 3rd, 2009, he handed over the classic Ford Mustang, along with a $1,500 down payment.
What occurred over the following years was a string of dodged phone calls and emails, flimsy excuses, and no concrete results. The story is explored in-depth by the IndyStar, but suffice it to say that both Harry Donovan’s Ford Mustang and an additional $5,800 went missing. The local police department told him that since the issue was not one of “theft” in the traditional sense, it was outside of their jurisdiction; similar responses were given by both the Attorney General, and Mr. Donovan’s insurance provider.
On June 6th, 2014, Dennis Lee was jailed for possession of a controlled substance (heroin), theft, and failure to appear in court. At this point, Mr. Donovan reached out to a retired police officer, who helped search for the car, finally finding it outside the house of Lee’s girlfriend – albeit without an engine, transmission, bumpers, or a hood. Donovan’s bone-stock 1967 Ford Mustang had been left an empty shell.
Now, Mr. Harry Donovan is still trying to receive recompense for the money, time, and classic pony car that have been taken from him. IndyStar reports that the battle will continue to be an uphill one; the amount of time passed means that the statute of limitations on any criminal charge may have run out, and the case might still be considered a civil matter, in which event no charges could be brought regardless.
But Hamilton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Andre Miksha isn’t closing the door on Mr. Donovan’s case just yet. He says that the prosecutor has arranged for a local detective to look at the case, which means that there’s still some possibility that Mr. Lee could be prosecuted for the theft of Donovan’s money and property.
We hope that Harry Donovan’s story reaches a more satisfactory resolution, and soon.