LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Gena Batman knows she’ll never get her husband back. That’s why it’s important for her to get something else back, something priceless.
“It’s just hard to have to deal with the loss of something that meant a lot to us on top of losing him,” said Batman, who lives in Lakeland.
Batman and her husband Tim would have celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary later this year.
“He just loved being around people,” she said.
They spent two decades raising four children, making memories and exchanging gifts.
Twenty years ago, Gena gave her husband a gold necklace and a gold bracelet.
“He rarely took them off. They were hard, he couldn’t hook them back on. I would always try to hook them back for him,” she said.
On June 7, Tim Batman was wearing that jewelry when his wife brought him to Lakeland Regional Health. He was suffering from respiratory-related symptoms.
“I said ‘Ok, honey, I’ll drop you here. I’ll go park the car. I’ll be right back in.’ And that was the last time I saw him,” Batman said with tears in her eyes.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gena Batman couldn’t enter the hospital with him. Over the next 10 days, she couldn’t visit him, even as his health deteriorated.
“I wasn’t able to be there when he passed away. I couldn’t hold his hand,” she said.
Tim Batman died on June 17 at the age of 67 from a combination of COVID-19 and pneumonia, according to his widow.
During his hospital stay, Gena Batman attempted to retrieve his belongings but was told they were being kept safe by security.
But the jewelry was missing when his belongings arrived at the funeral home.
“They have it circled and somebody initialed it that it’s not there,” Batman said of the inventory list. “Something that I could have passed down to the kids. Of course, now I don’t have it to give.”
In a statement, Lakeland Regional Health’s Vice President of Development/Chief Public Relations and Communications Officer Timothy J. Boynton wrote:
“At Lakeland Regional Health, we make every effort through our property inventory process to ensure personal belongings are safely cared for while patients are here and that they safely return with the patient or their family, as appropriate. We continue to investigate this ongoing matter.”
Lakeland police have assigned a detective to the case. It remains an open investigation.
“I feel like our family’s been violated. It’s hard to find the word that you put to it after everything we’re going through,” said Batman.
Batman wants the jewelry returned to her. She also wants to find out how it went missing to prevent another family from going through something similar.
“If there is someone out there who has your husband’s jewelry and is watching right now? What would you tell them?” asked 8 On Your Side reporter Staci DaSilva.
“I would tell them to search in their heart and turn it back in. If they can find some administrator or a nurse and just say – even if they said, ‘oh look what I found on the floor,’” said Batman.
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