Investigators call this case a mystery, but nothing unusual. NewsChannel 11 has discovered, however, Post investigators have known about stolen Wal-Mart merchandise for a couple of years and believe the woman in this story was purely a victim.
Marissa Gonzales, tired of waiting for the XBOX 360 she claimed she was owed, decided to go out and buy another one. She got it from a gaming store in Plainview.
"The weight of the box, what was different about it from the one in Wal-Mart?," asked NewsChannel 11.
"The one from Plainview was too heavy, way too heavy for me to carry. I couldn't carry it. I just picked it up and said, 'Oh, no, I can't carry this," said Marissa.
"The one I got from Wal-Mart was not heavy. I carried that one out that day," she continued.
For those of you who don't know, Marissa placed an XBOX 360 on layaway at the Lubbock Wal-Mart on South Loop 289. She paid for it in full, just in time for Christmas. But the day her boys opened it, all that was found was a stack of magazines and dirty socks. Crazy enough, names appeared on the magazines and the address was from Post, Texas. The same place Marissa lives.
Wal-Mart concluded Marissa had some sort of hand in the alleged theft and delayed giving her anything in exchange for the empty box. Garza County investigator Tommy Binford started working the case early last month.
"The names on the magazines, did they have any ties to Wal-Mart?," asked NewsChannel 11.
"Not directly, they knew of an individual in Lubbock that did have ties to people from Wal-Mart based on what I was able to find out from them," said Binford.
Binford says he has every reason to believe Marissa's story because for the last two to three years, he knows Wal-Mart has had problems.
"I know we've been working with Wal-Mart about things leaving their store (not paid for) and I believe they're addressing those issues," said Binford.
We found a report out of Colorado. Last month, two Wal-Mart employees were arrested for stealing $90,000 worth of electronics. NewsChannel 11 received numerous emails too, one about a local Wal-Mart.
This one says "I just wanted to let you know that the same thing happened to me Christmas of 2005. I bought my daughter a computer from Wal-Mart. When she opened it up, it was not all there. When I took it back, I spoke to one of the managers and she told me that things like that have happened before," wrote one viewer.
Wal-Mart has always stood by their claim that no employees stole anything inside this store around the time Marissa placed it on layaway.
"I was honest through the whole things. I just don't know why it happened to me," said Marissa.
However, just last week Wal-Mart refunded Marissa $432 in cash. A woman from the district office arranged for that to happen at the new Wal-Mart on 82nd Street and Milwaukee.
"This other lady came out to help me, I don't know her name, she was nice and handed me my money. She said she was sorry for whatever happened and sorry it took so long to get your money back," said Marissa.
Wal-Mart says they have discontinued layaway at all locations as of December. They did not give a reason why.
They also issue this statement: "Wal-Mart has long held to the principle of 'satisfaction guaranteed.' While there are still many unknowns in this matter and our own internal investigation leaves us confident no wrongdoing occurred while the merchandise was in our possession, we want to ensure our customer is satisfied. As a result, we have made the situation right by our customer and now consider the matter closed."
The XBOX 360 Exchange: A Christmas Story
It could happen to anyone if you are not careful; buying high dollar electronics from Wal-Mart and it turns out all you got was a box full of worthless stuff. NewsChannel 11 Cecelia Jones investigates why a mother can't get the XBOX she purchased.