Sometimes if you hold onto a lost item long enough, the lost item finds its way home. That’s the case for a Modesto woman.

Bernita Roton rescued two stolen tombstones 28 years ago, and after years of searching she finally found the owner.

“I thought I would have to be buried with it,” Roton said.

The Modesto woman acquired the tombstones after kids found them buried in her son’s backyard.

Roton knew the tombstones had some value to someone, so she kept them.

“I called and asked historical societies but no one could help,” Roton said.

For 28 years the tombstones collected dust while she searched the lineage of two names on the tombstones: Michael Noland and George Watson.

Then about a week ago, an article in the Modesto Bee lead her to Jim Brennan.

“I was just totally flabbergasted and shocked,” Brennan said.

The article was about a dedication to a monument in the Brennan’s family cemetery and it mentioned a familiar name: Noland.

“I had been reading that name for 30 years, Michael Noland,” Roton said.

The tombstones belonged to Brennan. Eventually he and Roton got in contact and the stones were returned.

Brennan says the family plot was vandalized in the mid 70s.

“Someone stole some headstones and the fence in the back,” he said.

It’s unclear how the two tombstones ended up in a yard in Modesto, but Jim already has plans to put them back in their rightful space.

After nearly 30 years of searching, Roton can finally close this case.