Largely forgotten, it had sat for months in a hunting bag. It was only a candle, but the carvings on it and its unknown origin nagged at hunter Jim Walker of Madison, Mississippi. "We were squirrel hunting with a dog," Walker said. "It was the last day (of the season); Feb. 28." Hunting 14 miles south of Greenville in the Mississippi River batture, the land was littered with debris left by last winter's flood. "There was stuff everywhere," Walker said. "Ice chests, bottles, green buoys, red buoys. I saw it. It was a candle and it had a date on it. I put it in my bag."
When the hunt was over, Walker pulled the candle out of his bag and saw it had also had a name carved in it - Shawn Dennis Stockard. Walker was intrigued and placed the candle back in his bag.
"It was a most unusual find," Walker said. "Did it fall off a barge? Did it come from somebody's house?"
Those questions would remain unanswered for months. Walker stowed his hunting gear and didn't see the candle again until he began preparing to hunt this season. When he saw it again, his curiosity was rekindled. He asked his son-in-law, Jeremy Shook of Brandon, to locate Stockard - and he did.
Stockard lives in Jackson, Missouri, and in 2009, he was was a desperate man trying to save his marriage to his high school sweetheart.
"Me and my wife were having problems, so I got online," Stockard explained. "It was some kind of black magic voodoo love spell.
You do some kind of chant they give you. You read your wish that's written on a piece of paper and then burn it and you blow out the candle. You do that seven nights and it's supposed to make the wish come true."
Stockard followed the instructions. He carved his name and date of birth on the candle as instructed and performed the ritual for seven nights. After that, he was told to get rid of the candle and never look at it again. So, he went to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and tossed it in the Mississippi River.
The only problem is, the candle keeps popping up.
"That's the second time somebody has found it," Stockard said.
"Somebody found that sucker two years ago.
Some kid found it in Mississippi. He asked if I wanted him to send it to me. I said throw it back in the river. Obviously, he did."
Walker was just as amazed by the story as the fact that he became involved with the candle that so far, has travelled 325 miles.
"I've heard of a lot of counselling, but this is a most unusual way to save a marriage," Walker said laughing. "I don't think I've ever had anything like this happen.
"For the greater good of his marriage, I'll do a Hail Mary from the bank and chunk it back in the river, but I'm tempted to buy a Powerball ticket first. This thing may have some good mojo."
Did the voodoo black magic love spell that was found on the Internet work? Well, no one can say it did, but no one can say it didn't, either.
"She's still with me," Stockard chuckled. "We're still hanging in there."
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