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St. Francis woman, 78, finds live grenade in basement

May 24, 2011

St. Francis - More than a month after a live missile from the Korean War era was found in the wall of a home here during a remodeling project, an elderly woman found a live grenade from World War II while cleaning out the basement of her home last week.

Marge Maynard, 78, of the 3800 block of South Iowa Avenue, was cleaning out her house on May 17 when she went up on a ladder and came upon an object wrapped in newspaper in her deceased husband's basement work cabinet.

According to the police report, when Maynard couldn't free the object, which she said was sticky and gooey, she used a metal trowel to dislodge it. Once freed from the shelf, she unwrapped the object and observed the grenade, which was later determined to be an MK2-HF fragmentation hand grenade from World War II.

Maynard then cleaned off the softball-sized grenade in a basement sink, dried it, then took the yellow grenade upstairs, setting it on the kitchen counter where it remained overnight. Police were notified when Maynard's daughter, Susan Kruse, 46, came over to check on her the following day.

Maynard told police she has been cleaning out the house, as it has been sold following the death of her husband last May. Maynard's husband, Jack, served in the Navy as a gunner in World War II.

"It's been with us all of these years," Maynard said. "He said he had a grenade, but, I thought it was defused. If I didn't have to sell the house, it would still be there."

When two St. Francis officers arrived at the home May 18, they were met by Maynard, who handed over the live yellow grenade with the pin still intact. Officer Kevin Jackson placed the grenade at the base of a tree in the front yard, then found five old tires from the backyard and placed them around the grenade as a precaution, as a nursing home is located directly across the street.

The Milwaukee County Bomb Squad was summoned, and the grenade was taken to the St. Francis Department of Public Works yard and detonated.

The discovery is similar to the discovery of a small green missile found lodged in a bathroom wall by William Wittman, 70, during a remodeling project at his St. Francis home on April 5. The bomb was determined to be live and was later detonated.

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