• Homeless man who returned woman's stolen wallet reunited with family on Thanksgiving

    By: Liz Artz


    ATLANTA - The homeless man who returned a woman's wallet to the Omni Hotel last week was reunited with his family Thursday.

    Only Channel 2's Liz Artz was there for the reunion.

    Joel Hartman's mother figure, Deanna Rodecki, said she found him after seeing his story on Facebook.

    She told Artz that two days ago she contacted the Omni, confirmed it was Joel, and now the four of them are spending Thanksgiving together.

    The 36-year-old homeless man has lived a whirlwind life since he returned a stolen wallet he found while digging for food in a trash can.

    In a week, Hartman went from the streets to a suite at the Omni at the CNN Center, food when he wants, a bank account stocked by generous strangers and multiple job offers.

    "It's really awesome. Really, really cool," Hartman said.

    But it was a phone call he got two days before Thanksgiving, 19 years to the day of his father's passing that has been life changing.

    "They've been looking for me for a long time. Really looking for me," Hartman said.

    His stepmom and two brothers found him through news coverage that was posted on Facebook. The brothers have not seen each other since they were kids.

    "I can't wait to see my family," Hartman said as he waited at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

    Hartman says in the past he's been drug and alcohol addicted and ADHD has made a steady job difficult. But none of that seemed to matter as his two brothers and stepmom arrived from Indiana.

    A day Rodecki says she's waited for, for 10 years.

    "I've been looking for him. I never stopped looking for him," Rodecki said.

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