St. George pawn shop owner responds to anonymous letter criticizing him for selling items from Las Vegas shooter’s home

Stephen Paddock's home after being searched by police in Mesquite, Nevada, photo date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Mesquite Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The first time Joshua Cram, owner of the St. George pawn shop More than Just a Second Chance, walked into the Mesquite, Nevada, home of the mass murderer who killed 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas last year, he said it was an eerie experience. 

Joshua Cram, owner of More Than Just a Second Chance, stands next to items being sold at his pawn shop in St. George, Utah, Sept. 25, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

“It did concern me and it did weigh heavy on my heart,” Cram said.

Despite the harsh criticisms of an essentially anonymous letter sent to St. George News and other media sources and community members, Cram said that as the owner of a pawn shop, he was asked by a realtor and Larry Bertsch, a financial consultant, to take possession of Stephen Paddock’s furniture and belongings from the Mesquite home.

Cram went into the home in July, packed up a lot of the furniture in a U-Haul truck and brought it across the state line back to his shop in St. George to sell. 

Although his character has been called into question, Cram said he still hopes to sell the remaining items that haven’t already been purchased from his store.

A good price, but would you buy it if you knew?

On Oct. 1, 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers at the final day of the Route 91 Harvest Festival held at the Las Vegas Village, an open-air concert venue.

In this Oct. 1, 2017, file photo, a wounded person is walked in on a wheelbarrow as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada | Photo by Chase Stevens / Las Vegas Review-Journal via The Associated Press, St. George News

In what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Paddock rained more than 1,100 bullets on the unsuspecting crowd from a room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

The attack lasted more than 10 minutes, killing 58 people and injuring 851 others – including many residents from Southern Utah – before Paddock reportedly took his own life.

Read more: Police release 81-page report detailing Las Vegas shooting massacre

While there has been speculation as to why Paddock carried out the shooting, his motives are still largely unknown, as there was no suicide note or manifesto found. For some, the lack of understanding Paddock’s thought processes makes him even more frightening.

And it’s a sentiment Cram is not immune to. Taking possession of the furniture that once belonged to a mass murderer is not something he said he was actively pursuing. He was asked to liquidate the items, and he said he felt like he could help by taking the stuff that no one else wanted. 

Items are placed on display within More than Just a Second Chance, a pawn shop in St. George, Utah, Sept. 25, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

“The alternative was to just throw the stuff away,” Cram said.

There were 15-20 furniture pieces or items that Cram took to his shop, including couches, pictures and electronic items, but not Paddock’s bed, personal items or any dishes, as implied by the letter. Most of the items from Paddock’s home have already been sold, Cram said. 

“Most of the stuff was barely even used, and some of it was brand new,” he said. “It was like the house was staged, and the furniture was just there.”

Cram’s store has only made about $900 from the furniture, he said, which isn’t much for a struggling business.

The items were also purchased on consignment, meaning 50 percent of the money raised from selling the furniture will be given back to Paddock’s estate, the proceeds of which are being used to benefit the victims and people affected by the shooting.

Read more: Survivors encouraged to apply for compensation, seek resources as Las Vegas shooting anniversary approaches

“That’s why we wanted to take on this project – we felt like we could help out in some way,” Cram said. “Yes, we are profiting a little bit, but we’re just doing our job.”

No longer anonymous

Cram said he initially hoped no one would hear about him taking the furniture from Paddock’s home for a few reasons: he felt like he might be publicly scrutinized for it, he didn’t want the items he sold to be stigmatized and he didn’t want to attract “weirdos” keen on buying items they knew came from a mass murderer’s home. These are the same reasons Cram won’t reveal which items are from Paddock’s home if a customer asks him.

More than Just a Second Chance is a pawn shop selling items that once belonged to Stephen Paddock, the mass murderer responsible for last year’s shooting that left 58 dead in Las Vegas last year. The pawn shop is owned and operated by Joshua Cram in St. George, Utah, Sept. 25, 2018 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

No one who bought any items from Paddock’s home knew they were buying stuff that once belonged to a mass murderer because Cram said he never tells his customers the origin of any merchandise at his store.

“We never tell anyone where anything comes from,” Cram said. “We do estate liquidations – sometime we know the people we’re buying from, sometimes we don’t.”

Cram’s wish to remain anonymous was short lived once his involvement was leaked in the form of unsigned letters with no return address and only the name “Gary” to identify the author.

The letters personally attack Cram and his business for liquidating Paddock’s furniture.

To take Stephen Paddock’s personal belongings, a mass murderer, and sell his items in Mr. Cram’s store for profit shows severer lack of character and moral conscience. I can bare wittiness (sic) that this is not something you want to be associated with your community either!

The letter says the only reason Cram took possession of Paddock’s items was to make a profit, which is something Cram said is not true.

The letter closes with stating the goal of warning the public about Cram selling Paddock’s furniture. Similar letters were also sent to Cram’s employers at his second full-time job and over 100 homes in the community.

Nothing to hide

So far, Cram’s employers and several people in the community who received the letters have approached him to ask him about it, but all of them were more concerned for Cram and his family than any of the products he was selling. He said he has gotten nothing but support from the people who asked him about the content of the letters.

“We were blindsided by this letter,” Cram said. “I don’t know who ‘Gary’ is, and I wish he would have talked with me.”

Cram said he knew if his involvement with Paddock’s estate ever leaked like this, it had the potential to ruin his reputation because of the animosity felt toward Paddock. Now, because of how damaging the letter’s contents are to Cram and his business, he said he is considering trying to track down the author and possibly taking legal action.

Cram said he has nothing to hide and is just doing his job in an effort to repurpose the furniture items to help the shooting victims. He’ll continue to operate More than Just a Second Chance and hope people in the community continue to support him and his business.

“I can only hope that people can see that we were trying to do some good and not make a quick buck,” he said, “because it hasn’t been a quick buck; it’s been a lot of work.”

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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14 Comments

  • DRT September 29, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Good luck to Mr. Cram with tracking down the letter writer. He, (the letter writer) sounds like a nut case that is needing something to keep his time occupied.

  • iceplant September 29, 2018 at 11:02 am

    You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Pawnbrokers.

  • chris keele September 29, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I own two folding chairs just exactly like the one in the first picture next to Mister Cram in this article, they came from Costco I believe, I see them all over the place, they neither one have displayed a single tendency to be possessed or cause me to commit demonic acts of violence, just like the firearms that were used in the commission of this savage and cowardly act, they too were not aware of the role they played, including the bump stocks, as far as they were concerned they were just participating in a day at the gun range, an absolute inanimate object in every sense of the word, so until we read this article in the paper we would never have known where and to whom these objects belonged, this place of business probably doesn’t need this kind of advertisement, are some of us insecure, or superstitious, or do we simply just have too much time on our hands and feel the need to worry about everything we see? I am embarrassed for some of the ” snowflakes” in our society.

  • Henry September 29, 2018 at 11:59 am

    “Gary” is a coward. I hope that Mr. Cram finds out “Gary’s” true identity, and sues him for slander. He’s just a guy doing his job, and actually raising more money for the victim’s fund. If “Gary” felt so strongly, he could have chosen to do something productive instead of spending hours trying to destroy the personal life of a small business owner. For example, he could have donated the cost of his time and supplies to the Victim’s Fund. Instead, I hope that he’ll be paying a hefty settlement to Mr. Cram.

  • youcandoit September 29, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Why are they still saying Paddock killed all 58 people, especially when witnesses said there were more shooters. Can they put in allegedly? Get facts please. Especially when at least 5 witnesses came forward they mysteriously died allegedly.

    • Chris September 29, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      nothing you said is true. you are obviously a sucker for conspiracy theories.

  • mmsandie September 29, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I would never support this business, he knew where the=merchandise came from . They should have sold the items somewhere else and all money goes to victims.. the pawn shop owner must have been desperate for money..

    • mesaman September 29, 2018 at 8:53 pm

      I wouldn’t have a hissy fit over it mm. You are not likely to be patronizing a pawn shop in the future, either way.

    • Redbud September 30, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Mm, you won’t support his business (which is sad because he’s done NOTHING wrong,) yet I’ll bet you shop at Walmart and buy items made in China where underage factory workers make next to nothing so you can buy a cheap roll of duct tape (to tape your mouth shut hopefully.)

  • Carpe Diem September 30, 2018 at 8:16 am

    “Gary” needs to get a life and get his nose out of people’s business. If he bought anything from the pawn shop, perhaps they will give him a refund. In the meantime, the funds help victims. Pawn shops, auctions, estate sales, Deseret Industries, they all have items with stories (often not good ones) behind them.

    If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen. Other people will make use of the stuff.

  • homer498 September 30, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Since this is a “stir the pot” story; I’ll take the initiative and move it along to something of more importance. Did you guys know they asked me to change my (logged in as) name “Badsh*tzoo” to something else because it had “an offensive word in it that they don’t allow”. They wouldn’t even tell me what the “word” was? So I said “Ok, how’s “Goodsh*tzoo” work for ya? I feel my 1st amendment rights have been so violated; and by the “Newssies” of all people! That Commie “Special Ed” was behind this? I just know it.

    • iceplant October 1, 2018 at 6:57 am

      Poor thing. There there, little one.
      If you can’t see what was wrong with your old name…

    • Carpe Diem October 1, 2018 at 7:27 am

      Yeah, well the Daily Mail booted me straight up for my handle attempt, tenth try after all the G ones were taken : WTFoxtrot
      Dagnabbit!

    • Paul Dail Paul Dail October 1, 2018 at 10:17 am

      Homer,

      I’ll take a moment to respond, although I question your implication that your username is a more important issue. But I think that was another of your shots at humor. And for the record, you should know that we did get a chuckle when we read your emailed response to our request that you change your username and you suggested simply changing “Bad” to “Good” (we do actually have a sense of humor from time to time). However, also for the record, if you’re going to directly quote a “Newssie,” please use the correct quote, which I stand by, as I don’t personally find your former word choice to be that offensive.

      I said “it contains language we would not otherwise allow in our commenter’s content.”

      Fortunately, we won’t have to ask you to change your new username, but if you are ever in the market for one, might I suggest your actual name?

      Paul Dail
      Editor in chief

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