Betty Malesky's birthday wish was granted, but not in the way she expected.
Last week, the 80-year-old Green Valley woman filed a report with the Pima County Sheriff's Department stating she believed her vintage wedding dress had been stolen during an open house at her former home on Nov. 6. During an interview about the theft, Malesky, whose birthday is Friday, told a Green Valley News reporter the return of the dress would be the best birthday present she could get.
Well, it turns out the silk organza dress with the floral design hadn't been stolen after all.
Malesky found the dress Monday while rooting around in her new master closet for a jacket. It was tucked in a corner hidden behind a partial wall.
"I just feel really stupid," Malesky said. "I could not believe it. If I hadn't gotten cold I wouldn't have found it."
Several months ago, Malesky decided to move to Silver Springs senior community, but left some of her items behind to sort later. Last week, she went to the house and found her closet door open and the bag that used to contain her wedding dress empty. The bag, which was usually shoved in the back of her closet, was front and center, she said.
Knowing no one else had keys to her home, Malesky concluded the dress had to have been stolen during the open house.
She's assuming now that the movers must have snagged the dress during the move, but she still can't figure out why it wasn't in the bag.
"It was here all of the time, but it's not in the bag like it was over there," Malesky said.
Malesky's Realtor, Joette Schenck of HomeSmart, knew all along the dress could not have disappeared during the open house because visitors are always so closely monitored. After the story hit social media, Schenck said she received a call from a Las Vegas TV station wanting to interview her for a story. As soon as Malesky called to tell her the dress had been found, Schenck said she jumped on the phone to let agents and clients know.
"It had nothing to do with real estate or the security of the house," a vindicated Schenck said Tuesday.
As soon as she gets a chance, Malesky said she is going to retrieve the bag from her old closet.
Before too long, the dress she wore when she wed her late husband, Joe, in June 1971 will be back where it belongs.