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Replacing a smartphone can be an expensive proposition. Many in the U.S. cost $200 subsidized, and $600 to $800 (or more) at full price. But the data on that handset? Well, that can be priceless — especially when you’re talking about irreplaceable images of lost loved ones.

A Craigslist post in Fredricksburg, VA, tells the tragic tale of a widow whose white Samsung Galaxy S3 was stolen. The device contained photos of her husband, a soldier who died in a war zone during active duty, taken during the last time she ever saw him alive. She writes, “Tonight, I cried uncontrollably in the arms of a friend because tonight I felt as though I lost my husband once more.”

With such precious data, the obvious question is whether she backed up her images. She did. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cloud, but on a computer that had a catastrophic failure. Now this war widow is offering a $10,000 reward just for the return of the photos. The thief can keep the phone.

When a Ph.D student lost his laptop containing his research data recently, it was a gut-wrenching scenario. But this takes tech loss to a whole new, heartbreaking level. Please, if you’re in the area and know anything about this, get in touch with her.

Her original post from April 20 follows in its entirety, along with an update that went out yesterday.

$10,000 reward for stolen cell phone. Begging whoever has it. (Fredericksburg)

Update below

Someone took my phone. A Samsung Galaxy S3. It’s white. It’s only worth a few hundred bucks to you or anyone else. If you unlock the screen you will see my home screen. In the picture stands a man. A man with a backpack and 2 other bags. That man you see, was my husband. And that night, it was the last time he ever held me. If you open the gallery you will see a collection of photos. Mostly of him. But some of his children as well. You will also see some of his funeral. Of his burial flag, his coffin. See, that man you saw on the home screen. The one who looks so eager to head into a war zone to protect the country he loved and his family, he lost his life doing so. The only pictures I have of him are on that phone because my computer crashed after I transferred them. Tonight, I cried uncontrollably in the arms of a friend because tonight I felt as though I lost my husband once more. I know with time my memory will fade. I will have difficulty explaining his features to his children. Or why I think they look like him. One who never had the honor of meeting his father. I don’t care about the phone. If you have it. Please just email me. I will respond and you will be able to send them to my email and you will never hear from me again. I only want the pictures nothing else. The reward money is 100%. If you can prove to me you have the phone and are willing to give it back. Proof required: My husbands Eye color hair color and shirt color in the skype photo of him. Along with the type of cover that was on the phone.

UPDATE: 5-16-2013

I wanted to post an update to this ad because unfortunately I do not have time to respond to each heartfelt email I have recently received. Most emails are asking about my old computer. Unfortunately after a trip to Best Buy and being told the data I was after was not retrievable I saw no harm in throwing away the computer. I had previously backed up the photos on my phone. They were not backed up after the computer crashed. I apologize for that misunderstanding. For those asking the general area where the phone was lost we were at a get together near Warrenton Road and Cambridge (Route 1) more in the Stafford side. I sincerely appreciate all of those reaching out and trying to help. Please keep in mind I am raising 2 kiddos alone and with end of the year things and field trips etc and one becoming very busy as a new toddler I am unable to thank each one of you. Please know you walk with us in our hearts in a very special place.

For the person who emailed me saying they believe they know who has the phone please email me back. For those concerned about the money it is from my husband’s life insurance policy and I am not walking around with a large sum of money. When you’ve lost someone so dear to your heart you begin to realize what matters and what does not. For this reason I am keeping a certain level of anonymity to maintain the surest level of my family’s safety as I possibly can.

After posting this I took time to reflect and came to peace with things. I was in complete hysterics when I wrote this and apologize for anything that may have been misunderstood or misconstrued I do have older photos from my In laws they have been gracious enough to copy for myself and grandchildren. Along with photos from professional photo sessions and emailed to relatives. In that moment that night it felt like everything had been ripped away.

Thank you so much for the servicemen and women who have reached out to donate to the reward and offer their services. The only thing I ask for you is to stay safe and to come home. I can not take anymore than the selfless love you are already showing this wonderful country. For the gentlemen who served with my husband thank you so much for your kind words. I was very touched so thank you.

For others asking to donate I wholeheartedly appreciate all of the offers but I simply can’t take anything from anyone. Prayers and thoughts are free and if you are willing to continue giving us those we are grateful for that.