Stolen American flag that draped the casket of a WWII soldier recovered in Willard

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WILLARD, Mo. A stolen American flag from New York was found in Willard.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Cathy Scoppo of Williamson, New York, reported a stolen American flag she had on display at the campground she manages.

But it wasn't just any flag. It was a flag draped over her father's coffin when he died in 1969. She was 14-years-old at the time. Her father, Corporal Michael Cowley served in World War II.

"That flag was on his casket, it was folded and presented to my mother at the funeral," Scoppo said.

The theft happened when a family from the Willard area vacationed at the campground she manages. Scoppo posted about the theft on Facebook, and through that post she received a tip about the person who took the flag. Through that tip, police traced the theft to a 16-year-old from Willard.

Corporal Steve Purdy of Willard Police was assigned to the case. Purdy said the teen finally admitted to the theft, but not at first. He initially said he left the flag back at the campground.

"The boy sent us on a wild goose chase, gave us a map saying this is where it is in the campground and we went out searching," Scoppo said.

"And they started searching that night and they searched until about midnight," Purdy said.

He went back to the teen's house a second time.

"And he said he brought the flag back to Missouri," Purdy said.

The teen turned the flag over to the police officer.

"Any Willard officer would have responded in the same way I did. What we do here is help people but I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to help out this family," Purdy said.

The flag is now on its way back to Scoppo and her family.

"It was amazing, the work they put into it. I can't thank either one of them enough. The officers in Missouri treated it with the respect it deserves and folded it back the way it was folded I'd love to give them all a hug. And I'm giving Corporal Purdy a long-distance hug," Scoppo said.

Police said the case has been referred to the juvenile division. It's unclear if the teen will face any consequences for the theft.