About Janet Pharris
After Janet Pharris died, the medals sat in the safe-deposit box for three years until the bank, by law, turned the items over to the state as unclaimed property. Several years passed, and Pharris' children tried to find the medals, with no success.
“By the time we tracked down the bank, it had already been turned over to the state, and it kind of went into a black hole,” said one of his sons, Jack Pharris II, 63, a Rancho Palos Verdes real estate agent.
This summer, a series of events unfolded that eventually would reunite the medals with Pharris' children.
In June, a federal judge ruled that state officials weren't doing nearly enough to contact the rightful owners of unclaimed assets. Every year, roughly 850,000 pieces of property are seized from abandoned safe-deposit boxes alone. (In the past, the state has seized unclaimed money and property even from celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Barry Manilow, Oliver Stone and Bea Arthur, records show.)
Meanwhile, California officials passed a law eliminating some of the red tape that was making it difficult for state officials to find the owners of seized property. State Controller John Chiang, who took office last year, announced in August that he was stepping up efforts to return seized property to its rightful owners.
During the news conference, Chiang mentioned some of the odd items the state has seized over the years. He specifically mentioned a Medal of Honor.
Later that month, Chiang's staff tracked down Pharris' children, who were thrilled.
“We'd been looking for the medal for a long time,” Jack Pharris said.