FORT HOOD, Texas — Words are hard to come by for the Sturm family, who relocated to Fort Hood from Fort Drum, New York. Nearly everything was stolen from them in Tulsa, Oklahoma during a weekend that was supposed to be spent celebrating the marriage of Sgt. Jesse Sturm's sister.
The 26-foot U-Haul truck and trailer that was towing their Dodge Durango was stolen between April 26 and the morning of April 27.
"I didn't know what to say," Wendy Sturm said. "I went marching out there in my nightgown and low and behold, there was no truck there."
Wendy Sturm said they parked their U-Haul truck and trailer in a parking lot next door to the Homewood Suites because it was the closest spot nearby where it would fit. She said her husband moved the truck around 10 p.m. Friday and walked out to get things at 7:45 a.m. Saturday.
He discovered the truck was gone.
Wendy Strum said employees at the hotel told her the parking lot they parked in it was empty when they arrived to work at 5 a.m.
"Emotions can't, the words of the emotions can't describe how we felt because it was heart wrenching," she said. "Everything we have worked for is gone."
"It was a surreal moment," Jesse Sturm said, recalling the moment when he walked outside to see the U-Haul truck and trailer was gone. "I wasn't angry or upset at first because it was so surreal. It was like I didn't know how to react."
Wendy Strum said her family's whole life was inside the U-Haul. She said it had a washer and dryer, couches, linens, beds, and bedding, among many other personal things. A rifle that was in the Dodge Durango between the seats was also stolen.
The family arrived on Fort Hood Monday with donated items from friends and family, all of it fitting in a 17-foot-long U-Haul truck. Wendy Sturm said she's thankful for all of the donations and is overwhelmed, but she admits that there were some irreplaceable things.
"My boys' baby books, those are now gone," she said. "So many things that mean so much. The last of my Nana's ashes. Those are gone."
Wendy Sturm said the Durango was found in Tulsa a week after it was stolen with a lot of damage and it was not drivable. The family had to sign it over to their insurance company for repairs. She also said the stolen rifle was found during a traffic stop, and the person who had it was arrested.
When asked what he's learned from this terrible tragedy, Jesse Sturm admits that he's angry to a degree, but credits his Dad for perspective.
"For every bad person that's out there," he said, remembering the words of his father. "There's at least good people who are willing to help you and we've experienced that first hand."
"There's words, but you know, they're not worth saying," Wendy Sturm said when asked if she was angry. "Obviously, they needed some of that stuff more than we did. So, it's... We got to keep pushing on."
A GoFundMe was set up for the Sturm family and has raised $8,500 of its $10,000, so far.
Other stories on KCENTV.com: