When A Diver Unearthed A Ring In A Muddy Pond, His Discovery Pieced Together A 60-Year-Old Mystery

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Sometimes in life, you can find certain items in the most unexpected of places. Whether it be a misplaced set of keys or bits of loose change, people are often surprised when they make the discovery. As for Luke Berube, though, he found something quite unique in a somewhat murky location.

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An amateur diver, Berube was investigating a small body of water in Hanson, Massachusetts, in June 2019. During his time beneath the surface, he quickly uncovered a brass ring before continuing his search. After taking a break, the treasure hunter then returned to the pond in the hope of finding another artifact.

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With a waterproof metal detector in hand, Berube swam to the bottom of the pond, as he believed something was buried there. With that in mind, the diver began to work his way through the silt to reach the mystery item. It turned out to be another ring – but this one was slightly different.

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The second ring was in fact a commemorative piece of jewelry from an old high school in Boston, Massachusetts. While taking a closer look at the object, Berube also noted some initials and the year it had been issued: 1960. At that point, he decided to search for the original owner.

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For hundreds of years, countless people across the world have been fascinated by the idea of finding lost treasures. Famous examples include the likes of Captain William Phips, who uncovered a Spanish vessel in the 17th century, and Indiana-born treasure hunter Mel Fisher. However, this isn’t just a hobby.

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There are still many salvage businesses operating in seas around the globe, in fact, searching for old ships in our planet’s waters. And if a crew is able to find one of those vessels, they’re owed financial recompense that’s dictated by how much the freight is worth. This particular law has been in place for around three decades now.

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Despite the financial gains on offer, though, some individuals don’t focus on that aspect of treasure hunting. Instead, the sheer enjoyment of searching for something in an unexpected place is enough for them. Using tools such as metal detectors, they’re able to find lost objects such as coins and jewelry while on land or even underwater.

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On that note, an amateur treasure hunter named Chris Turner felt the urge to start an ambitious project a few years ago. Turner is an extremely experienced “detector” who’s been searching for valuable items for close to five decades. And during that time, he’s taken a real interest in assisting those who’ve lost precious objects.

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Following all of those different jobs down the years, Turner decided to start a website called The Ring Finders. And on the service’s website, he reveals a little more about its work. According to the treasure hunter, his mission is to assist people who’ve lost prized trinkets.

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“My name is Chris Turner from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,” Turner writes on the website’s About page. “I’ve been metal detecting for over 47 years and helping people find their lost rings for over 25 years.” At that point, he then explains the ultimate aim of The Ring Finders.

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“My goal is to offer the world an online directory of metal detecting specialists that will help people find their lost jewelry at beaches, parks, lakes and yards all around the world,” Turner continues. “The Ring Finders directory of independent metal detecting specialists is ten years old now. We are ready to help you find what you thought was lost forever.”

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From there, Turner touches upon the overall success of his online service, sharing some impressive statistics. Indeed, in a large number of cases the “specialists” have apparently been able to recover clients’ missing items. As for the website founder, he’s seemingly played a significant role in that respect, too.

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“My goal is to help you get reunited with your lost jewelry,” Turner adds. “The Ring Finders’ members have recorded over 5,610 successful recoveries to date and have had some amazing stories to tell on their personal blog pages. I personally have had the honor to find and return over 316 lost rings to their very happy owners.”

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Turner also felt the need to highlight the importance of one particular aspect of the job. In his mind, the anecdotes that some clients share with him and his specialists show the true value of the company’s work. And the experienced treasure hunter isn’t shy about admitting how much that means to him.

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“I have heard the stories that these rings come with, and what it means to people to have a second chance to find what they thought was lost forever,” Turner writes on the website. “This by far has been the greatest job I’ve ever had. I get to make people smile!”

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Turner then reveals a little more about the specialists themselves. According to him, a number of these individuals already boasted plenty of treasure-hunting knowledge prior to joining the online service. In addition to that, the Canadian also wants to make something clear for any potential client who needs help.

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“These are independent metal detector owners and operators, [in] most cases with many years of experience,” Turner continues. “I have shared my 25 years of search experiences and search tips with all members. The members listed on The Ring Finders directory all set their own rates and terms.”

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Aside from that, Turner has another message to share with those who are interested in his services. The Ring Finders chief directs readers to the “Book of Smiles,” a page on the website that displays photos of previous clients with their recovered jewelry. Of course, according to him, there’s always room for more.

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“Please visit our Book of Smiles,” Turner suggests in his post. “It is my sincere hope that you can be reunited with your lost jewelry, and that your smile could also be added to the many we have documented over the years. We look forward to helping you find your smile!”

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As Turner had previously mentioned, the online service has a number of specialists of varying levels of experience at its disposal. Luke Berube is one of them, after he became a member of the website back in 2018. While treasure hunting isn’t his primary occupation, it does serve as a unique hobby.

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“My name is Luke Berube, [and] I am from Orleans, Massachusetts,” reads a profile post by Berube on the website. “I have been detecting for approximately 12 years. I am an advanced open water certified diver, licensed boat captain and avid mountain biker.” From there, he reveals a bit more about himself.

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“I have been spraying Line-x truck bed liners for 11 years as my profession, which takes up a lot of my time,” Berube adds. “But I always find a way to take some time to pursue my hobbies of detecting, diving and biking.” In the bio, the Orleans resident also confirms that he’s prepared to search for items both underwater and on land.

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Berube’s profile page also includes some other interesting information. Indeed, the amateur diver has written several blog posts detailing some of his past jobs for The Ring Finders. The content doesn’t end there, either, as a number of his clients have left their own reviews of his work as well.

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And of all those different posts, one in particular stands out. Back in June 2019, Berube’s skills were really put to the test after he made a discovery in Hanson. The treasure hunter wasn’t actually out on a job at that point, in fact, but the find pushed him to play the role of a detective.

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“For the past month my hobby hunts have been rather anti-productive, other than a few old silver coins, which is somewhat depressing,” Berube wrote in his blog post. “I decided to go on a short road trip about an hour away from Cape Cod to an undisclosed location/pond I’ve never dove [into] before.”

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At that point, Berube described the conditions upon his arrival, ahead of his first find. “The water temperature was 70 at the surface, and 65 at approximately eight-to-ten feet deep,” he continued. “Right off the bat, I hit a brass signet ring that looked like gold but unfortunately was not, so I kept going.”

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As Berube indicated, he stuck around for some time after finding that brass ring, hopeful of uncovering something else. But despite his best efforts, the pond still didn’t appear to be offering up any other hidden trinkets. The treasure hunter consequently had a decision to make.

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“After a couple [of] hours, my air was getting low,” Berube recalled. “So I made my way back to my vehicle to head back to the Cape to do another dive in a pond I’ve done very well in in years past.” Before the diver left the area, though, he first returned to the pond with his metal detector one last time.

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And in the end, that decision from Berube proved pivotal. “While heading back [into the pond], I got a solid mid-tone on my minelab Excalibur II,” he explained. “And [I] started digging and fanning the muddy silt on the bottom. I reached my hand in the hole and grabbed a handful of muck, but felt an unexpected target. It felt like a ring.”

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Berube’s assessment proved to be correct, in fact, as he’d uncovered his second ring of the day from the pond. However, this piece of jewelry was noticeably different to the first. As the Orleans resident soon found out, the item was more than half a century old and sported some initials, which led to an intriguing moment.

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“It turned out to be a class ring from Gate of Heaven high school in South Boston, class of 1960, with the initials WJW,” Berube revealed. “I started the search for the owner, but could not find any records of a person from the class with those initials.” While that appeared to be a significant setback, he still didn’t give up.

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Instead, Berube then took to social media to continue his search for the original owner. And, thankfully, he made a big breakthrough on that front after visiting Facebook. The diver eventually stumbled across some people who appeared to have the answers he was looking for.

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“Feeling like I hit a dead end, I turned to Facebook and found a group of alumni from the school, which I managed to join,” Berube wrote in his blog post. “And [I] posted the find with a ‘help find the owner please’ request. That was Sunday morning [at] around 6 a.m.”

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Just a few hours afterwards, Berube finally received the response he was after. “By noon I had a text message from a woman who was named Christine Wadel,” the treasure hunter continued. “She believed it could be her father’s ring, and that his name was William Joseph Wadel.”

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After being informed about Berube’s Facebook post, Wadel had a conversation with her father as well, asking if he knew about it. “I called my Dad and said, ‘Dad, could this be yours?’” she told WBZ-TV in June 2019. “And he says, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘You lost a ring?’ And he said, ‘Yes!’”

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Wadel’s father was indeed once a Gate of Heaven high school graduate and had finished his studies in 1960. As a result, he’d received the ring to commemorate his achievement – but sometime later, it disappeared. To further compound the disappointment, the former student didn’t even lose it himself. Instead, it was his partner who was responsible.

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From there, Berube touched upon what happened after Wadel responded to his message. “Rather than text back, I called her and she sent me some pictures of her father,” the amateur diver wrote. “As well as his high school diploma from the class of 1960.”

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Following that conversation, Berube and Wadel then discussed how the ring would be returned to its rightful owner. The latter’s father lived down in Virginia, in fact, which of course is several hundred miles away from Massachusetts. On that note, she decided to take the piece of jewelry and make the delivery herself.

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“[Wadel] agreed to make the trip to the Cape last night to get the ring,” Berube wrote. “So she could give it to her father this weekend, who lives in Virginia, when she goes to visit him.” Meanwhile, the Orleans resident also confirmed that he’d contacted WBZ-TV to cover the story, with the station’s cameras subsequently capturing the handover.

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For Berube, though, this moment proved to be a lot bigger than some may have expected. “Now the ring is in Christine’s hands and will be headed to its right place on her father’s finger,” he concluded. “This type of recovery/return has been on my bucket list for years, and I finally managed to pull it off.”

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