Salt Lake City police technicians go the extra mile to return photos to family


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SALT LAKE CITY — Ralph Moore admits he's forgotten a thing or two in his lifetime. But when he saw an old black and white photo Tuesday — one he'd never seen before — he remembered his father's face right away.

"I didn't really know that these were taken," Moore said. "I did not know that. And I'm just happy to have them back."

Moore didn't even know the photograph, and about 100 others in slides, were missing until he got a call from Salt Lake City police telling him they had old photographs his father took in the 1940s.

"It was his hobby, and he was a member of the Salt Lake Kodachrome club," Moore said. "He taught himself how to take pictures, and he was pretty good at it."

Tuesday afternoon, Moore went to the police station to collect all those old slides.


It's going back and seeing history. It brings a lot of fun things as we did as a family.

–Ralph Moore


"It's going back and seeing history," said Moore, who gasped when he first opened the small, wooden box holding all the slides. "It brings a lot of fun things as we did as a family."

All the slides were evidence in a theft case going back almost three years. Police found the thief and recovered the slides, but they were never reported stolen from Moore's Holladay home.

Police evidence technician Zacharia Carlsson was about to throw them out when he started looking at the slides.

"What struck me first was one had 1943 written on it. As soon as I saw that, it was hands down we need to figure out what's going on with this," Carlsson said.

He showed them to another evidence technician, Haley Takoch, who didn't want to see the slides just thrown away.

Salt Lake City police evidence technicians Zacharia Carlsson and Haley Takoch look on as Ralph Moore looks at his fathers slides they recovered for him.
Salt Lake City police evidence technicians Zacharia Carlsson and Haley Takoch look on as Ralph Moore looks at his fathers slides they recovered for him.

"I thought, gosh, we should do more work, because if it were me, I would appreciate someone taking that extra time because pictures are very, very important to me," Takoch said.

Even though she had hundreds of other pieces of evidence to be processed from other cases, Takoch started doing research on the slides.

All of them had the name Lawrence Moore and an address written on them. She sent a letter to the address, but it came back "undeliverable."

Takoch then entered the name into a police database. That came up empty too.

So, she put the names into a family search website and found a marriage certificate in Lawrence Moore's name, as well as his wife, Emma Moore.

Takoch put both names into a Google search and found an obituary in Emma Moore's name. That obituary also had the name of Emma's son, Ralph Moore.

"Then we took the son's name, ran it through our system, and was able to find an address and a phone number," said Takoch.

When Ralph Moore got that phone call, he couldn't believe it. In fact, even after looking at his father's old photos Tuesday afternoon, he still can't believe it.

"I think they are wonderful for doing that," said Moore, speaking about Takoch and Carlsson. "It does show that people care. That's where patience pays off, and maybe a little bit of curiosity thrown in for good measure."

Photo of Lawrence Moore, part of a collection of slides stolen several years ago and returned to his family Tuesday.
Photo of Lawrence Moore, part of a collection of slides stolen several years ago and returned to his family Tuesday.

Moore's father, Lawrence, died in 1989. Now, he says he's going to show his four children, and 19 grandchildren, pictures of their family they never knew existed.

"I'd like them to see these," Moore said. "I'm sure they're going to love to see them. They're really going to get a kick out of this."

It's all because two people figured some old photos were priceless to someone.

"It made me feel good that I didn't just treat it like anything else," said Carlsson. "It was fantastic to see that he was moved and that there are photographs he hasn't seen. The old one of his father was awesome."

Besides the photograph of Lawrence Moore, there are some of Emma, downtown Salt Lake City in the 1940s, and southern Utah.

"It's a good feeling because sometimes you see all this stuff and you're just trying to process it and you feel like what you do doesn't really mean anything," said Takoch, "so it's something like that that makes you feel really good about what you do."

Salt Lake police evidence technicians put notices in the local newspapers every month about evidence that is about to be thrown away. They also send letters to any addresses the evidence is connected to.

Sometimes, they're able to find the rightful owners. Most of the time, though, they can't.

"We do try hard," Carlsson said.

In this case, a little bit of extra effort is going a long way for the Moore family.

"It brings back fond memories," said Moore as he hugged Takoch goodbye. "History is one of my favorite subjects, and I never knew my family's history would turn up like this."

Email: acabrero@ksl.com

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