A home Christmas party with friends and family is usually a fun time. So it was, for South Milwaukee hosts, Melissa and Matthew Graff. But then their joy turned to desperation when Melissa’s wedding rings went missing.
In the process of cleaning up after the party, Melissa vaguely remembered removing her rings and setting them on a kitchen shelf beside the microwave oven. The location was her usual place to put them. But when she returned the next day to put her rings back on her hand, the rings were nowhere to be found!
I received a phone call from Melissa on Monday evening and provided guidance and suggestions of places to search. We also began to establish a timeline of events as best as the couple could remember. Time, along with the trauma of losing such a precious item, has a way of blurring one’s memory.
My ability as metal detecting specialist is somewhat limited inside a home. Wiring, nails, screws, metal ductwork and pipes, make it challenging to isolate a small ring inside a house. An “estate search,” as we detectorists call it, can also be invasive. But I can assist forensically by narrowing down the possibilities.
For example, could the ring have gone down the kitchen sink? Had the garbage been taken out? Had they checked the washer and the dryer? Were pockets, clothing and shoes checked? Had they vacuumed the floor? Were there pets in the home? These and host of other questions help narrow the search areas. The couple continued looking that day without success. The next evening, Tuesday, I arranged to meet on location.
In reviewing the timeline, I asked if they knew when the last party guest left. Technology came to the rescue when a security camera at the front door logged a video and the time whenever the entry was breached. We watched as each guest left and noted the times. The last event, remarkably, recorded Melissa’s hand reaching up to the door. It clearly showed her wedding ring on her hand. And since Melissa had not left her home since then, the ring still had to be somewhere in the house.
I checked the sink drains, heat registers, under the stove and fridge. No ring. Then two large bags of garbage begged investigation. We placed a tarp out on the front lawn and emptied the first bag. I systematically scanned the contents with my metal detector but no ring surfaced. We did the same for the second bag. It was when we were just about to put everything back that Melissa’s ring suddenly appeared on the tarp amidst cookie crumbs and leftover donuts!
It was an emotional moment for sure! The garbage was scheduled for pick up the very next morning. Thankfully we had been able to search through the bags before then. As for how the rings ended up in the garbage, this will forever remain a mystery. Who knows! But Melissa and Matthew’s smiles tell the rest of this happy-ending story!