RING OF REDEMPTION: Teen earns second chance after theft

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Ring of redemption, that is what this story is all about.

“I’m not a bad person. I just made a bad choice,” Rivers Prather said.

It was a bad choice that could have landed 17-year-old Rivers Prather behind bars.

“I definitely didn’t want to go to jail for 15 years on felony charges,” Prather said.

While on vacation from New Mexico, a woman stopped by Jimmy’s bar at Wrightsville Beach. But as she headed home, she realized she did not have everything she came with.

“She had lost her wallet with her ring in it,” Jimmy’s owner, Jimmy Gilleece said. “And she had to fly out the next day and her wedding ring was in there. So she was just frantic, didn’t really care about the money in it or anything else.”

So Gilleece began searching for the wallet and when he did not find it in the bar he turned to surveillance video. On the video, he saw Prather on the bench where the woman was last seen.

“I saw the wallet. I took the money out. And I mean, the first thing I did was go and buy a sandwich with it,” Prather said.

When Gilleece went to Facebook to find the boy in the video, Prather came forward.

“You know I still kinda didn’t believe his story. His story was that he took the cash out because he hadn’t eaten in two days and he saw the ring in the wallet and he threw it off the public docks into the water,” Gilleece said.

“When I found out there was a wedding ring in there I wanted to get it back to the person, ’cause a wedding ring is a special thing that really no one should have to worry about losing,” Prather said.

So Gilleece asked Wrightsville Beach Diving for help.

“He was homeless sleeping out by the park,” Gilleece said. “And I felt bad for him I didn’t want him to get arrested. Like a said he was just a boy. So I said ‘are you 100% sure that ring was in there?’ He said ‘yeah.’ So I said ‘well I’m going to hire some divers.'”

Prather threw a rock where he threw the wallet to help divers, and after a while of searching they found the wallet.

“Sure enough they came back up five minutes later with the wallet,” Gilleece said. “And I just looked at Rivers and said, ‘That ring better be in that wallet.’ And it was. Everything he said was 100% true.”

Thanks to Gilleece, once the woman caught wind of the news, she dropped the charges against Prather.

“He could have just, you know, said ‘well I have you on camera I’m giving the footage to police.’ But he chose to help me, and I don’t know what I would have done without his help,” Prather said.

“He gave himself a second chance too,” Gilleece said. “Just, you know, stepping up. Admitting he did wrong, and basically fixing the problem.”

Prather got redemption for his actions and it is all thanks to Gilleece.

“I think it happened for a reason,” Prather said. “My life would definitely be a lot different. You know, I’d probably still be sleeping outside right now if it weren’t for Jimmy.”

Gilleece has since taken Prather into his home and given him a job. Prather will stay with Gilleece until they can find a permanent solution for him.

Prather said he will never steal anything again.

As for the woman in New Mexico, Gilleece said her friend has already mailed her the $10,000 wedding ring.

Categories: Community, Local, New Hanover

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