Lakewood Church Exec Speculates on How Stolen Cash was Hidden + Finder Gets 20k Reward but is ‘Upset’ with Osteen

Good news! Justin Cauley, the man who found 600k in cash and cheques stuffed behind a bathroom wall at Joel Osteen’ Church last month is getting a reward for his troubles, but it’s not coming from the church directly.

Back in 2014, after the news of the theft broke, crime stoppers offered their standard $5000 to anyone who provides information leading up to an arrest or conviction, and Lakewood church added another $20,000 to the mix. After a time when it became clear that no one was coming forward, Lakewood donated the reward money to Crime Stoppers, who while they have since spent that money, announced on social media that Justin would be getting most of the original donations.

Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious said in a statement: “In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case. In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations. Today, we are gifting that same amount of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season.”

As far as how the money ended up behind the wall in the first place, it’s still a mystery, although one executive at Lakewood has speculated on what happened. While the bathroom where the money was discovered is a public bathroom, it is single occupancy, typically meant to be used by parents with children, as you can lock the door. Justin shares how he found it :

There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile. We went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away, and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall, and I was like, ‘Oh wow!’”

Don Illoff, a senior Executive at Lakewood, told the Christian Post:

The bathroom is a public bathroom, but it’s a single-use bathroom and you can push the ceiling out of the bathroom. If you threw the bags [of money] up into the ceiling to maybe get them later or whatever and they fell down into the wall, you wouldn’t be able to get to the bags.” 

Cauley has been a little unhappy by the response he’s gotten from Lakewood throughout the whole ordeal. While he’s pleased to get the money from Crimestoppers, he said he never heard anything from Lakewood until yesterday, despite finding the money back on November 10th. Once news of the story broke, he said he’s been watching and monitoring Osteen’s services to see if he would get mentioned or given a word of thanks, which they never did. He told Click2Houston KPRC:

“I wanted to hear (Joel Osteen) say, ‘You know, Justin, what you did was right. We understand what you did and what you could have done. I feel like, at this point, I should have heard something. I’m just a little upset.”

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