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Post Office Aborts Man’s Effort to Sell Purported Shuttle Debris

An Alhambra man who advertised for sale what he claimed were fragments of the exploded space shuttle Challenger has stopped the ads and has agreed to discontinue the sales effort through the mails, postal inspectors said Tuesday.

Postal Inspector Tom Dugan said an inspector went to the home of Randy Tanniehill after becoming aware of classified ads in the Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News that offered fragments “believed to be all that’s left from tragic Challenger disaster. . . .”

According to the ads, the fragments were recovered from the ocean floor “in the immediate area of the explosion” and would be “sold separately or beautifully framed.” No price was given; only the number of a post office box in the name of the House of History.

Postal Inspector Ross Casados, who went to the Tanniehill’s home, reportedly was told that Tanniehill did not yet have the items in hand.

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Postal Inspector Ben Kilgrow in San Bruno said Tanniehill will be asked to sign a formal agreement that he will not advertise mail-order sales of the purported fragments in the future. That, Kilgrow said, will preclude the filing of any legal action in the matter.

Tanniehill was unavailable for comment. His wife, Francine, told reporters that he was a construction worker away on a job and that he was interested in prospecting and treasure-hunting.


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