Man tracks down owner of missing badge 21 years after it fell into Pennsylvania lake

YORK TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania -- A dedicated treasure hunter used Facebook to reunite a former Pennsylvania corrections officer with the badge and wallet he lost more than 20 years ago in a York County lake.

Dennis Benkert, of West Manchester Township, hunts for valuable metal as a hobby. He's found military ID tags, graduation rings and even teeth.

Benkert recently noticed an ongoing construction project at Lake Redman and "took the advantage of going down there while the water was low." Using a metal detector, he discovered the wallet with the badge pinned to it buried underneath two inches of mud.

Through Facebook, Benkert's friend was able to track down the owner of the wallet, 49-year-old Shawn Eakins.

Eakins' son, Reddit user biggrizzae, posted photos of the rusting badge, writing that his father was “super bummed” because the wallet contained his badge as a York County Prison Correctional Officer.

Benkert also realized he had his own connection to Eakins.

"I did call my brother up to try to find out if he knew who he was and he said yeah I worked with Shawn. He said what's his badge number? I said 320 – my brother's was 310, so they did work together," Benkert said.

Eakins believes he lost the wallet while paddle-boating with his wife.

Eakins said, "Maybe an hour or so after we left the lake I realized I lost it and I figured it fell into the lake somewhere."

His old credit cards, social security card and even an old Hollywood Video Store card were still in the wallet. But the piece Eakins missed the most was the badge itself.

"I was upset because I was a fairly new correctional officer so it had my badge, my wallet, and that's the thing that meant the most to me in it," Eakins said.

Now, 21 years later, Eakins said his life has definitely changed.

"Well at the time my son was 3 years old, he's now 24 years old, I didn't have my daughter Addison and she's now 14 years old. My wife and I just celebrated our 24th anniversary," Eakins said.

Benkert said it's moments like this that keep him hunting for treasure.

"It's fulfilling to me to make somebody else happy," he said.