Missing Memories: Families say video store disappears with home movies

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. -- Video is a great way to preserve and remember family events. But what happens when all that video and all of those memories disappear?

3 On Your Side's Gary Harper says that exactly what happened to numerous Valley families. Those famiies trusted their video memories to one Valley business. But things didnt go as planned.

Keith Colombik is proud of all of his family's big accomplishments. Many of those treasured memories, including weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, are all captured in photographs. They're also captured on VHS tapes.

"So, here's my dad," Colombik said as he pointed to one of his many photographs. "He's an actual World War II veteran. Not many of them left."

On the other side of the valley is Ashley Woodward. When she got married she had photographs taken, but she also has the memory captured on video.

"We just wanted to be able to watch it again and maybe show our children one day," Woodward said.

Woodward and Colombik are just two consumers who took their videos to King Tapes in Mesa, a business that specializes in accepting aging and outdated video formats and converting them to DVDs.

However, after these customers had dropped off their memories, King Tapes closed up. Their phone line has been disconnected, which isn't promising. There's a note on the window apologizing and blaming their abrupt and lengthy closure on a family death.

"They're all in the same boat I am," Colombik said. "It's their family history that this guy is sitting on."

On the outside of King Tapes, it's not uncommon to find customers like Marie Campbell routinely driving up and wanting to know where their videos are.

"I dropped off my videotapes in March," Campbell said. "My son's birth all the way up until his 8th birthday. His entire childhood is what he (the owner) has. I have none of them and I have to get them back."

According to state records, King Tapes is owned by two different people. 3 On Your Side was able to track down the personal cell phone number for one of them.

The man who answered the phone told 3 On Your Side that he used to own King Tapes, but sold it six months ago to someone named John Clayton Giroux.

Documents verify Giroux is considered a co-owner, but where he went to and what he did with everyone's videotapes is unknown.

3 On Your Side asked if the previous owner knew anything about a death or if he thought one had really occurred.

"I don't know. I can't answer that," he replied. "I really have no knowledge either way."

For now, customers are left wondering where their tapes are and if they will ever get them back.

"Just give us the tapes back," Colombik said. "I'm sure there are a lot of people in the same boat.  They don't do you any good.  So, do the right thing, pick up the phone and call the people who had faith in your company and give them their merchandise back."