Roommates find $40,000 stuffed down their sofa, and track down its 91-year-old owner

“My mouth was literally hanging open - everybody's was - it was an unfathomable amount," said one roommate

Three young roommates who bought an worn-out second-hand sofa and found $40,000 (£24,000) stuffed inside it, have returned the money to its original 91-year-old owner.

The roommates bought the couch for $55 (£33) at a Salvation Army shop in March, and noticed that there were odd bulges and lumps in its arms.

One night in April, flatmate and student Reese Werkhoven, of New York City, opened a zipper on one arm and found an envelope containing $4,000 (£2,385) wrapped in bubble wrap.

Opening the other compartments, Cally Guasti, Mr Werkhoven and third roommate Lara Russo discovered $48,800 (£24,330) in cash-filled envelopes. 

“We just pulled out envelopes and envelopes,” said Ms Guasti, a social worker for the US charity Family of Woodstock, who shares a flat with her two friends in New Paltz, 75 miles north of New York City.

“My mouth was literally hanging open - everybody's was - it was an unfathomable amount.”

“We put it all on a bed,” Ms Guasti said. “We laid it all out and started counting. And we were screaming. In the morning, our neighbours were like, 'We thought you won the lottery.”

But when the group later found a deposit slip with a woman’s name written on it, Ms Werkhoven called her the next morning.

“She said, 'I have a lot of money in that couch and I really need it,”' Ms Guasti said.

They drove to the home of the woman, who cried in gratitude when they gave her the cash she had stashed away.

The woman's family had donated the couch to the Salvation Army while she was having health problems.

Ms Guasti said the three had considered the option of keeping the money, but decided they could not bring themselves to go through with it.

“At the end of the day, it wasn't ours,” she said. “I think if any of us had used it, it would have felt really wrong.”

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