[FPSPACE] Missing objects at Kansas Cosmosphere still missing
zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 1 16:32:46 EST 2004
Posted 10/31/2004 11:53 PM
Case of missing space artifacts stretches into second year
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) A year has passed since the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center gave law enforcement the results of an internal audit showing more than 100 artifacts missing, but no one has been arrested or charged.
Investigators have recovered an undetermined number of items, but none have been returned to the Cosmosphere, said president and chief executive Jeff Ollenburger.
Officials with the U.S. Attorney's office in Wichita and the FBI both acknowledge having begun investigations into the disappearance of artifacts but won't say whether they are still looking into the matter or when charges might be filed.
"We don't really give updates," said Jeff Lanza, spokesman for the FBI's regional office in Kansas City, Mo.
The Cosmosphere has around 12,000 items, ranging from gloves and helmets and small tools used by astronauts to hardware provided by NASA that has been in space.
Cosmosphere officials first became suspicious in August 2003 when they noticed that artifacts were being sold without the board of directors' approval and that the Cosmosphere wasn't receiving the money. None of the items had been on display but some were loaned by NASA.
An internal audit the following month confirmed that items were missing but couldn't tell when they disappeared. Access to the Cosmosphere's storage areas is tightly controlled with only a few employees having the necessary keys and security codes. (Related story: Space collecting has become a popular hobby)
Since then, law enforcement and the Cosmosphere itself have said little publicly about the matter.
Ollenburger, who has acted as the only public source of what limited information there is, said he doesn't know when authorities may announce a break in the case. But he said he'll be happy if and when they do.
"The good news is that sometime soon the truth will be brought forward by credible people outside of this organization," he said.
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