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Shocking Discovery: Half a million dollars falls from ceiling during house fire near 46th and Custer

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A shocking discovery on Milwaukee's north side. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were found inside a home but no one knows where it came from. 

The home has been boarded up for weeks and neighbors say they haven't seen the couple who lives there that whole time. Neighbors were stunned to learn that firefighters found half a million dollars in cash in the ceiling.

Police reports show that when the Milwaukee Fire Department was called in January to a basement fire near 46th and Custer, a large amount of US currency fell from the ceiling. Neighbors are now worried about the elderly homeowners.

"I am wondering where they are. That's what's bothering me because I have not seen either one of them and I can only keep praying that they're all right," said one neighbor.

A tipster told us that the US Drug Enforcement Administration now has the money and sure enough, the DEA confirmed it seized at least half a million dollars in cash. Criminal defense lawyers we spoke with say the DEA wouldn't do such a thing without good reason.

"There has to be some nexus to criminal behavior in order to warrant seizure by a federal law enforcement agency," said Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Hart.

Court records indicate that the homeowners haven't been charged with anything but the police report says the couple told officers their grandson spent time in the basement and MPD put out an investigative alert for him.

Some neighbors say they've seen the grandson outside the home engaging in suspicious activity.

"It's a little scary. It makes you wonder did someone know about it? But I mean, if it was a fire in the basement...wow. Half a million dollars," one neighbor said. 

The DEA says since no one has claimed the cash and since 60 days have passed since the seizure, the money is forfeited to the government. 

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