Cristina Binkley’s grandfather passed away when she was young, but her grandmother kept his memory alive by talking about their love story.
It began with letters written in the early 1950s during the Korean War.
“They met right before he got deployed, and fell in love through these letters,” Binkley said. “Once his deployment ended, they got married and started their family.”
Which is why Binkley’s parents mailed her those letters in July after her grandmother, Barbara Binkley, died in her sleep at the age of 76.
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The plan was to make a display of the notes for her memorial service.
But the letters that found their way across the world half a century ago disappeared during the trip from Arizona to Tacoma, where Binkley moved a few months ago.
The 25-year-old flight paramedic and wildland firefighter thinks they were stolen from her apartment complex sometime around July 22, when they were supposed to be delivered.
About a week after the letters were mailed, she found the empty package, the box the letters had been in and her firefighting clothes, which her parents had mailed, in the dumpster behind her apartment in the 600 block of St. Helens Avenue.
“There was no trace of a letter or an envelope or anything,” she said. “It appears that somebody took them, and I have no idea why.”
The family held the memorial service July 31 without the letters, but Binkley hopes someone will still come forward and return them.
Police have no suspects.
“I remember the first one I read, which was: ‘Barbara, I am so excited to come home to you.’” Binkley said. “‘You are my sweet, sweet Barbara and my strong tower.
“‘I am excited to start a family with you and spend our lives together. You are my strong tower, my everything.’”
Binkley’s grandfather, Bob, the letter writer, died 21 years ago at the age of 58.
“I couldn’t date anyone else,” Binkley remembers her grandmother saying. “I already had the best.”
Binkley is offering a $300 reward for the return of the letters. There won’t be any consequences for the thief, she said; she just wants the letters back.
“If they find value in the stamps or the envelopes, that’s fine,” she said. “I just want the words back that my grandfather wrote my grandmother.”
HOW TO HELP
Anyone with information about the missing letters is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 928-273-4450.