Metal Detecting Lost Engagement Ring…Found in Burke, Virginia Backyard
BRIAN RUDOLPH, LOST ITEM RECOVERY SPECIALIST (LAND, WATER, SAND, HOUSES & VEHICLES) WILL FIND YOUR LOST KEEPSAKE! CALL ASAP (301) 466-8644!
A young lady named Michelle called me in a state of desperation, asking for help in finding her platinum, 3/4 carat blue sapphire engagement ring. It had gone missing the day before and the bride-to-be was devastated in not knowing where to turn or what to do about the situation. After many calls were made to businesses where she may have lost her ring, Michelle googled “metal detector rentals” in the Burke Virginia area. The first listing was for THE RING FINDERS, an international metal detectorist directory. Her only mistake made in this whole story is that Michelle didn’t click and contact THE RING FINDERS first! Instead, she decided to select the next listing which advertised metal detectors for rent. It wasn’t until the young lady and her concerned father failed to recover the most sentimental piece of property in Michelle’s life that she finally returned to THE RING FINDER’S online website to locate a local metal detectorist near to her.
The moment that Michelle began to share her story with me, I recognized that she had the best attitude under the circumstances of what she was dealing with. Michelle and her fiancé Tim were greatly looking forward to tying the knot on May 15th of 2020, and the thought of not wearing her engagement ring on the most special day of their lives was just devastating (Note: Sadly, little did Michelle know that due to the Covid-19 pandemic which erupted just a week later, the couple would have to postpone their wedding to a future date). And yet, as upset as Michelle was, she maintained a certain positive mindset and was hopeful that her phone call to me would prove to be the wisest decision she could make since none of her other ideas brought back her sentimental keepsake. Calling her fiancé in Great Britain where Tim had been currently working at the time was one of the most difficult moments for Michelle when she shared the sad news that her ring had disappeared. As it got closer and closer to the “big day”, there were more details being checked off the enormous wedding to-do list and this was clearly a step in the wrong direction! The bride had looked forward to soon gazing at her beautiful gem as she would embrace her future spouse upon Tim’s arrival home from England in preparation for their spring wedding. That dream of wearing her engagement ring for Tim was now in jeopardy of ever happening.
Here are the details that Michelle shared with me about what she was doing prior to the disappearance of the ring. Michelle and her best friend Jenny spent the afternoon together. The bride drove over to her friend’s house and they first took Jenny’s car to the local Best Buy for some quick shopping. Next, they headed over to the shopping mall where they had lunch at Popeye’s restaurant and then stopped over at Sephora to try on some makeup samples for the wedding day. They finished their task and then walked to the other side of the parking lot where Jenny’s car was parked. Finally, they drove back to Michelle’s best friend’s house where they hung out in Jenny’s room and inside the kitchen area.
Up to this point the excited bride-to-be wasn’t consciously aware of whether or precious ring was still on her finger at that time or not. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later, after Michelle arrived back to her own neighborhood that she realized the ring was gone. Once she pulled into her driveway, she walked up the front path, entered the house and immediately placed the dog harness on her sweet canine named Penny. They proceeded to take a long walk down the street and back to her residence. Then, they went along the left side of the house towards the 2.5 acre back yard where she allowed Penny to play in her dog pen as she talked on the phone with a friend and then made a call to her fiancé Tim. Because the young lady was focused on her conversations with her husband-to-be on the phone, as well as with her girlfriend while walking Penny earlier that afternoon, her mind and eyes would not have been focused on whether or not her ring was still on her finger. After a while, the two continued their walk around the property to the front yard where Michelle took the dog to the end of the block, and then back to the house where they finally ended their long trek for the day. Once she brought Penny inside for her feeding time, she looked down at her hand and was shocked to discover that her beloved blue sapphire engagement ring was gone!
The distraught young lady immediately contacted Best Buy, Popeye’s, Sephora and the mall security to see if they could check their video footage to verify whether or not Michelle was wearing her engagement ring as she walked out of any of those stores. Out of all three retail places, Best Buy was the only one that was able to confirm that Michelle did in fact have the ring on her finger when she walked out to Jenny’s car! This helped a little bit by cutting out the electronics store, but there was a lot of territory that was left to be in question. Of course, nothing was turned in at the mall security office or at any of the places where the ladies stopped at inside the shopping mall.
The next thing that Michelle did was contact a local hardware store that advertised metal detector rentals online. She and her father took the Garrett Ace 150 and took turns swinging the machine all over their multiple acre estate, scanning a long side the road up and down the block and then back towards home again. While pulling up random pieces of iron and insignificant metal objects, Michelle felt so frustrated with herself that she just couldn’t remember when she had it on her hand last! After hours of searching, Michelle and her dad still didn’t give up and they continued to methodically cover the bride’s tracks from the front door, all around the front steps area, up and down the street, along the side of her house towards the backyard, walking in the direction of the dog pen and all across the lawn to the other side. They detected every spot where Michelle remembered walking so that they didn’t miss a section of that lawn. Finally, the father and daughter duo finished scanning the grass on the right side yard of the house and then covered the front as the search came to a conclusion. By the time they were done searching, complete exhaustion and disappointment set in. It was at this page in the story when I, Brian Rudolph, of THE RING FINDERS was contacted with the hope that I could finally bring resolution to this very troubling mystery!
The Night Search – Day 1
I arrived at Michelle’s Burke, Virginia neighborhood sometime around 6pm later the same day when she called me in the morning hours. Earlier on the phone, the bride-to-be shared that she still wanted to personally do some more metal detecting around the property before finally calling it quits. So we agreed that if she still had no luck, I would come out later that day and get a new search started. Frankly, it was a lot of ground to cover and there was no way of knowing whether the ring had even fallen off her finger near her home or someplace else. Knowing that the priceless jewel had already been slightly loose on Michelle’s hand and that there were so many possibilities as to where it could have ended up, I had to keep my mind focused and remain confident that I wasn’t wasting my efforts as I searched around her property, as well as detecting up and down the street. That always plays a “mind factor” when there are just so many loose ends to a mystery case.
Upon asking Michelle additional questions, her first thought was that she must have lost it somewhere in the yard. However, doubt set in because she began to think of all of the places that she had visited throughout the day (other than Best Buy) and realized that the ring could have come off anywhere since she didn’t remember the last time she saw it on her finger.
The other side of the coin was that because the weight of the platinum ring was quite recognizable, Michelle believed that she would have realized that the ring had been missing earlier when she was hanging out with Jenny. So, she had a feeling that the ring could have been lost along the front walkway, somewhere in the neighborhood along the street, or possibly lost in her yard. One thing was for sure, Michelle and her father felt that they had done a fine enough job of metal detecting all of these “hot spots”, yet there were no positive results to prove their claim.
Once I introduced myself to Michelle and her friend Jenny who was over at the house, as well, Michelle showed me around the property and got me oriented in terms of all of her movements from beginning to end. She even took me back to the laundry room where she fed her dog Penny when she first realized that the ring was missing. I checked her blue hoody sweatshirt pockets with my handheld metal detector, and then searched the foyer area of the house before starting to metal detect along her front steps and around the bushes. The most important thing that we did was to pray and ask the Lord for help in recovering Michelle’s most priceless possession. I told her that God loves marriage because he instituted the whole concept of marriage and the engagement ring acts as a symbol of commitment which God ordained from the beginning of time between man and woman.
Next, I metal detected a pile of dog poop bags near the garage just in case the ring ended up in one of them during a “pickup “. I continued my night search all along the side yard, moving slowly towards the backyard and around to the other side. I only had about 2.5 hours to look for the jewel so I did not do a consistent grid search, but rather a quick scan by zigzagging the metal detector with the hopes that I might hit the target as I moved quickly to cover as much territory as possible. There were various target signals that hit my detector but none of the metal appeared to be above ground.
I finished the quick scan around the perimeter of the house including the section of the yard where the dog pen fence had once been set in place and where Michelle had been hanging out with the dog the day before. Still nothing turned up. I then walked along the street all the way to the end of the block and then moved my way back around on the opposite side of the road and went all the way to the other end of the court. By the time I backtracked to the house, I had just enough time left to inspect Jenny’s car and then Michelle’s vehicle as soon as her parents arrived back home from the airport. Using a high lumens headlamp and my highly effective endoscope which can show me hidden details within cracks and crevices in vehicles and in houses, I concluded that Michelle’s ring never ended up in either vehicle. Still curious if I had missed anything, I quickly rechecked some of the side yard to the left of the house once more. Nothing turned up where the grass met the driveway and where it sloped down towards the tree line. It was at that point that I needed to turn my equipment off, pack my things up and say good night to Michelle.
Before leaving Michelle’s house, I summarized all of what I had accomplished that evening and I was quite encouraged that I covered quite a bit of ground even though I did not discover the ring. Michelle was equally positive and kept thanking me, expressing how much she appreciated my help. I gave her some homework assignments to take care of for the next three days before I would be able to return that coming Sunday to resume the search. I told her that I was hoping that she would find the ring before having to see me again. I also shared with the bride that I would continue to pray for the discovery of this “symbol of love” between her and Tim until I was scheduled to return three days later. Michelle agreed that she would take my advice and place flyers in everyone’s mailboxes in the neighborhood, as well as post an ad on Craigslist just in case somebody found the ring at the local mall. Though she would have to return the metal detector, Michelle would keep her eyes open and continue to scan both sides of the street to see if she might eyeball the ring. She would also check her yard again including the house living room which I did not inspect up to that point. Michelle would also check in with the mall security, Popeye’s and Sephora to see if anybody turned the ring in. Once we covered all of our bases, I left her place and encouraged her to stay strong and believe for a miracle.
The Day Search – Day 2
Three days after my initial search, I returned to Michelle’s place on a beautiful but very cold Sunday morning. I gave myself a search window of 3.5 hours of metal detecting around Michelle’s property. My goal was to grid as much territory as possible and this time I would swing the detector with very fine gridlines as opposed to the zigzag pattern that I did before due to my limitations on time the other night.
Though I had already searched the street, I thought it would be best for Michelle to take me on a walk towards the end of the court where the street dead ends in order for me to get an exact foot movement as to where she walked about with Penny four days earlier. We also prayed again and asked the Lord for help in recovering Michelle’s beautiful ring (calling on the Name of the Lord for wisdom and guidance is the most important detail in all of my searches).
When we returned from my orientation down the street, I asked Michelle to take me to the backyard and she once again walked me through some of her steps when she was walking the dog that afternoon of the disappearance of her ring. Everything checked out to be the same account as before but with one exception. When I asked her again if she had walked anywhere in the center of the backyard, she did mention that she had walked from the far back of the lawn over to the dog pen. This meant that she had in fact crossed into the center of the yard and walk towards the entrance of the dog’s pen gate to allow Penny to move about inside the fence line. I would remember this important piece of information later in my search that morning.
While Michelle relaxed in her house with her parents, I started metal detecting up and down the street, focusing on the exact areas where Michelle had guided me earlier. Everything checked out clear. Then, I returned back to her estate and began grid searching all along the side property heading in the direction of the backyard. Nothing checked out along the line of pine trees that separated Michelle’s place from her neighbor’s property. I kept moving my way towards the backyard all along the perimeter of where she had previously walked. It was at that point that I utilized that very important information that Michelle shared with me earlier when she mentioned that she cut across the middle of the yard over towards the dog pen. I continued metal detecting in that same direction.
It was extremely bitter cold outside and at some point the very thoughtful bride-to-be came out to check on me. She kindly offered an inviting cup of hot chocolate which I gratefully welcomed!
While the kettle was being heated up, so did my search as I moved closer and closer across the center of the multi-acre lawn towards the pen area (in the same direction of where Michelle and Penny walked to the pen’s entrance). Though I had previously covered the parameter of where the fence was set up initially on my last visit, I had not metal detected closer to the center of the backyard heading towards the dog pen’s gate from that center spot. This was definitely a small strip of new territory for me to investigate.
Just as I was approximately 10 feet or so to the left of where the dog pen gate entrance would have been set up, I hit a very promising target signal. Though I had already encountered multiple target signals that appeared to be quite shallow or on top of the ground, nothing turned up to be Michelle’s ring. This particular target signal had a certain bounce to it and a certain tone that was in the range of what I was looking for. I was quite excited as to the possibilities of what this piece of metal could turn out to be. I knelt down in the grass, took out my pinpointer (a handheld metal detector) and zeroed in on exactly where the target was hiding. Just as I started rummaging through some blades of grass to finally catch the stubborn little piece of metal, my eyes excitedly became fixated on a circular shaped object that was silver in appearance! Then, I saw the color blue at the very tip of this spectacular looking halo! I found it! I found Michelle’s lost ring! I was just as excited as I was surprised at the fact that I found it in such a short period of time in the location of where I was searching! I probably had been outside in the backyard for less than 30 minutes or so before bringing this difficult search to a close!
The ring could have fallen anywhere in the neighborhood or it could have ended up in somebody else’s pocket had the jewel not stayed on Michelle’s finger long enough to return back to the property after doing her afternoon errands! I could have been out there searching just about anywhere for the next several hours or even possibly days on end all to conclude that it was nowhere to be found! And yet I discovered the engagement ring before having to go through countless hours of detecting in the freezing cold! I was overwhelmed with gratitude unto the Lord for what I was able to recover for this concerned young lady! I couldn’t wait to reveal what I had found!
At some point soon after I found the ring, Michelle came out with the hot chocolate. It was absolutely delicious! In the moments that were to follow, the surprise that I revealed to the bride turned out to be even sweeter and more memorable than even that amazing cup of hot chocolate which Michelle had graciously made for me! Her reaction to what I recovered for her was completely off the charts! Her parents were also beyond blown away with excitement and were frankly in a state of awe as to what I was able to accomplish that morning! In the foyer of their lovely home, Michelle, her parents and I all celebrated together this fantastic return of their daughter’s most beautiful blue sapphire engagement ring! Tim was contacted soon after our party came to close and he was so very relieved that the ring was found! He also expressed his deep appreciation for my successful efforts and asked Michelle to convey his many words of thanks for recovering the priceless keepsake!
I was so proud to know that what no one else was able to find, I had discovered the beloved bridal betrothal piece and brought it back to Michelle’s finger that morning! Yes, now that it was successfully found, that special sentimental treasure would excitedly count the days when it would happily welcome its new counterpart…yes indeed, Michelle’s long awaited wedding band!
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