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Stolen Memorial Sword Turned in by Former Hellgate Student

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MISSOULA -

Missoula Police found a stolen sword from a memorial at Hellgate High School in a former student's home.

Fire crews spent an hour searching for the stolen sword, which they initially thought was in the Clark Fork River.

Later, police said the student turned the sword in, saying he found it some bushes near the river.

Todd Geery said the sword was meant to represent strength, and carry on his son Chance's legacy, who died after being struck by a car back in April.

"At first, you know, I thought it was someone being vindictive, but then I thought, why would they do that," Geery said.

He said he bought the sword, and presented it to the school last fall.

"They wanted to give him a plaque for being the toughest guy they ever coached, and he was killed, and I just thought well can we do something better," he explained.

Geery said it was originally attached to a trophy inside Hellgate High School and was later bolted down to a wall.

"And the way it was displayed and the way it was just set there by the school, it could have been anyone," he said.

Police said the sword had been missing since December.

On Friday, fire crews dragged the Clark Fork River searching for it, after receiving a tip students had dropped it off the Higgins Street bridge.

"I've got some names, but I don't have anything concrete, most of it's hearsay," said Hellgate High School Police Resource Officer, Jim Johnson.

Johnson said this afternoon, a former Hellgate student turned the sword in, saying he found it near the bridge.

Johnson said he's still unsure if the student stole it, and knows others were involved.

"But, I'm going to keep investigating this until I can hold somebody accountable for it," he said.

For now, the sword is back with Geery, who said he plans to give it back to Hellgate officials, but only after securing it in a display case.

Geery said, "It's supposed to be at Hellgate until I'm gone, and that's what I hope happens to it."

Police said the high school students involved in the incident will face charges, once they're taken into custody.

We'll keep you updated on this story as we learn more.

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