When he got the call Thursday that the stolen statue was found undamaged, he immediately headed over to the shed where it was located, in the 500 block of Walker Street.
"I was afraid they would carve it up," he said of the thieves as he looked at the statue sitting safely in the back of his vehicle.
Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Tony Walden said he went to the home after receiving a tip that the statue was in a backyard shed. The owner of the home, a retired doctor, told officers he hadn't been in the shed for years.
Investigators unlocked the shed and found it stuck between an old mattress and another statue that matched others located around the yard. The homeowner told officers he often bought statues at estate sales.
Walden said in cases such as this, whether the property will be recovered is unknown.
"You always want to keep hope, because you don't know," he said. "I'm ecstatic they got it back, and I know they are too."
Paine's future daughter-in-law, Natalie Spires, was on the scene sending a picture message to Paine's wife, Kate.
Spires said Kate Paine cried on the phone and said she couldn't wait to see it.
Members of the Paine family had a difficult time when they learned the statue, dedicated in 1981, was missing. The sculpture, which depicts a child in a mother's embrace, was created in memory of Alice, who died in 1980.
It went missing about four weeks ago from its pedestal of pink granite near the old Academy of Richmond County building on Telfair Street. The pedestal had been knocked over.
Spires said she went to scrap yards several times each week after the disappearance to search for the irreplaceable monument.
Paine patted his pocket to show where he carried money for a reward, hoping someone would come forward with information.
"It's a happy day for us," Paine said.
The news came at a great time for the family, according to Spires, who will marry the Paines' son next weekend.
The family would like to see the statue returned to its original location, but Paine said the final say will come from the trustees of Richmond Academy.