Pittsburgh city detective Kurt Fischer was reading the Sunday paper on July 26, 1981, when a story about the Carnegie Museum of Natural History caught his eye.
“Museum ‘Out’ $75,000 Gem,” read a Pittsburgh Press headline.
“I sure hope to heck I don’t get that one,” thought Fischer.
On Monday morning, when he walked into his office, the case was his.
“I knew it was going to be a bear,” Fischer said in a phone conversation yesterday. “Sometimes you get the easy ones.”
And other times you’re tasked with finding a pale-yellow, 16-carat diamond from India valued at $75,000. The gem apparently went missing on Friday afternoon, July 24, 1981, but officials discovered the loss on Saturday during a daily walk-through.
Later in the week, Fischer received a call from a woman. She said her husband had recently been jailed in Pittsburgh, and while there he met a man who was bragging about stealing a giant diamond. The man had since been released, was living back in Erie, and police there knew him well.
Stealing a diamond sounded like something the man might do, Erie detectives told Fischer.
It was the best lead he would get on the case, and it went nowhere. The Pittsburgh chief of detectives at the time declined Fischer’s travel to Erie. The trail has remained cold, though Leigh Kish, the museum’s current marketing director, said a replacement diamond has since been purchased.
“…but no other updates on the case. I’d guess I’d assume that nothing was ever solved,” Kish wrote in an email.
Fischer, 64, retired from the city in 2001 and now works as private security at federal offices around Pittsburgh. The 1981 diamond theft is a case he still thinks about.
“The statute of limitations has long since expired,” Fischer said. “It would be nice just to get it back and parade it over to the museum and say, ‘Here it is!’”