Carson City, NV - If you ask most people on Mountain Street about Walter Samaszko, they can't tell you much. That's because most people didn't know the 69-year-old - even though he'd lived at the same home there for at least 30 years.
"I didn't really know him, nobody really knew him," says Sondra Baxter, who lives in the house across the street. "He mostly kept to himself."
Samaszko died in June, but officials didn't find his body until a month later. Baxter's husband, Joe, had not seen Samaszko outside his house for a while, so he knocked on Samaszko's door to check on him. No one answered, so deputies were called out. That's when they found the 69-year-old homeowner's body.
When it came time to put the house up for sale, a real estate agent was trying to clean it up when she saw ammunition boxes in the garage and under the crawl space. When those boxes were opened up, they revealed gold coins. And there were a lot of them.
Alan Glover, who serves as the Carson City Clerk-Recorder, was called over to the home.
"Boxes and boxes," says Glover, about the discovery. "The boxes all stacked up together were about two feet long and two-and-a-half feet high. "A lot of them were just stacked in boxes in the garage along with lots of other boxes. and they were just sealed in marked books. along with all sorts of other boxes of canned food and other boxes.
not a bad way to hide stuff, I suppose."
Glover was amazed by all the coins he saw.
"Every kind. 20-dollar gold pieces, American. There are Austrian ducats with a picture of the Emperor of Austria on them. There are British sovereigns with Queen Victoria's picture on them, gold maple leafs and a lot of Mexican coins."
The boxes of coins had to be carefully removed from the home. Glover sought out Allen Rowe, the owner of Northern Nevada Coin, to learn more about the newly discovered treasure.
"We've seen quantities of gold like this but never this large a quantity at one time," recalls Rowe. "There were hundreds of gold coins. The real value is going to be between seven and eight million dollars. It depends on where the price of gold is."
As of now, all the gold has been moved out of Carson City and into a safe location. Carson City officials still need to hire an appraiser. They've been able to track down one relative of Samaszko: a cousin in Northern California. Since Samaszko did not have a will, most of the fortune will likely go to that relative.
"We've got our main issue, to deal with the IRS because this is a state subject to inheritance taxes, so we'll be working with them and of course, they'll take a nice chunk of it," says Glover. "And we're in the process of proving the only, well, closest heir anyway, a cousin in California."
Those who lived around Samaszko can't believe that there was a golden treasure not far from their own homes that had likely been there for years. Some say, it's proof you never really know your neighbors.
"It was just unreal," remarks Sondra Baxter.