Plumber Discovers Cash, Checks in Walls of Joel Osteen's Megachurch

Nearly 500 envelopes full of cash and checks were recently found hidden behind a wall at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

The discovery was made by a hired plumber, who called in to a local morning radio show and stated that he had uncovered the money while working at the megachurch on November 10.

"There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile," the plumber told KILT-FM radio. "We went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall, and I was like 'Oh, wow!'"

"I went ahead and contacted the maintenance supervisor that was there, and I turned it all in," the plumber continued.

The total amount of money found behind the wall was not disclosed. However, after the plumber turned the findings into the Houston Police Department (HPD), it was revealed that the envelopes may have been tied to a 7-year-old cold case.

Lakewood Church
Around 500 envelopes full of cash and checks were found hidden behind a wall in Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, and authorities believe it may be tied to a massive robbery that occurred in 2014. Here, the exterior of the Lakewood Church can be seen. Timothy Fadek/Getty

In 2014, $600,000 was stolen from the Lakewood Church in a brazen heist. A mix of monetary items, $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks, were stolen from a safe, as well as secure credit card information from members of the church.

At the time, Crime Stoppers Houston offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, but the case continues to go unsolved.

The robbery made national headlines, as the megachurch is one of the largest in the United States, with over 50,000 people reportedly attending its weekly services. It is run by pastor Joel Osteen, one of the most visible televangelists in the country who is known for controversially shuttering his church to outsiders in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

While it might seem obvious that the envelopes would contain part of or all of the money that was stolen in 2014, HPD has not confirmed that the incidents are related. An official from Lakewood Church would only go as far as to confirm that the money had been found behind the wall.

As the story continued to unfold on the morning radio, the hosts rhetorically asked whether the hidden money would lead to new answers about what truly happened during the robbery.

"Don't you want to know what happened, I mean they stole the money, but they didn't get it out of the wall," a host on KILT-FM pondered. "Did they have an accident, you know what I mean? It's like, why did they never go back? If it's that money, why did they never go back?"

"If [the plumber] never had been doing that work behind that toilet, they would have never known that money was there."

The plumber who made the discovery will not be given the $25,000 reward from Crime Stoppers, the group stated, given that the funds had only been offered for information that led to an arrest. Additionally, the statute of limitations on the reward had already expired.

The plumber reportedly contacted both HPD and Lakewood Church regarding the potential reward, but said that he did not hear back.

Newsweek has reached out to HPD for comment.