CARSON CITY, Nev. – Walter Samaszko Jr. was a loner whose death went largely unnoticed. That all changed when a crew sent to clean out his house found a fortune stashed away in the garage of his modest ranch-style home.
There were ammunition boxes stuffed with thousands of gold coins, from Austria, Mexico and the United States. There was enough gold to fill up two wheelbarrows – more than $7.4 million worth.
“There was every kind of coin you could think of,” said Alan Glover, the Carson City clerk and the public administrator of the estate.
City officials searched through records to find an heir: a substitute teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area who a judge declared Tuesday was Samaszko’s lone surviving first cousin.
The decision means Arlene Magdanz, of San Rafael, Calif., is a millionaire. She didn’t attend the hearing and, so far, has not said anything publicly about her newfound fortune.
Officials were able to track her down using a funeral bulletin at Samaszko’s home that led to his father’s service in Chicago in the early 1960s, and then newspaper clippings that listed survivors.
When a lawyer told her that her 69-year-old cousin’s estate was valued in the millions, officials said, she was surprised, just like everyone else, including his neighbors on their quiet street.