A Diver Finds a Ring and Accidentally Solves a 60-Year-Old Mystery

Published: Jan 22, 2023

You can find some things in the most unexpected places. A lost set of keys or some loose change can turn up when you least expect it. We’re also surprised by the discovery.  

Massachusetts native Luke Berube was astounded when he discovered a very peculiar artifact in a muddy and wet location.

The treasure hunt begins

Berube, who was not a professional diver, had an interesting hobby. He would don his diving gear and go to local bodies of water to search for anything that had found its way to the bottom. 

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In June 2019, Berube was treasure-hunting in a small pond near Hanson, Massachusetts. He found a brass ring there and then decided to take a break. After resting for a while, he went back to the pond, hoping that perhaps there was more treasure waiting to be found.

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The discovery of the mysterious ring

Back in the water, Berube dove to the bottom once again to see if he could find anything else. He had to fight the sludge and mud at the bottom, but his underwater metal detector was beeping.  

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The digging went slowly, and was very messy. But his determination paid off. Berube indeed found another treasure. This time it was also a ring, but it was definitely not a simple gold band. It was a decorated piece of jewelry with some unique characteristics. 

The mysterious object is identified

He could tell immediately that this was some sort of high school or college ring. After he cleaned it off a bit, he saw that the ring came from an old high school in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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When Berube examined the item more closely, he noticed that engraved on the ring were initials and the year 1960. He realized that he’d found someone’s high school ring, and he imagined this person was probably sad that it had gone missing. He decided to find the owner. 

Treasure hunting is a challenging career

While the term “treasure-hunting” sounds like something out of a children’s book, it is actually a full-time career for many businesses and individuals. And it can be very lucrative. There are companies that search for old sunken ships, for example.  

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One example of such a treasure hunter was Captain William Phips, who, in the 17th century, found the wreck of a ship that belonged to the Spanish. A man named Mel Fisher is famous for going worldwide seeking lost fortunes. So treasure-hunting is far more than just a hobby.  

The promised reward is backed by law

There are still a substantial number of salvage businesses that are actively seeking derelict ships in the waters all over the world. And there’s a good reason that they spend so much on their salvage voyages.

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If a crew is successful in finding one of those vessels, they are entitled to monetary compensation that is proportional to the value of the freight that was lost. These statutes have been in place for around thirty years. 

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The true reward

However, there are those who don’t put much of an emphasis on the financial gain of treasure hunting, despite the fact that there are opportunities to make money from it. Instead, all that is necessary to satisfy them is the simple excitement of looking for something in an unusual location.

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They are able to locate misplaced items, such as coins and jewelry, using instruments like metal detectors, whether they are searching on land or even beneath the surface of the ocean.

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The detector

Some amateur treasure hunters devote themselves to the hobby almost full time, and make it their business to identify lost items and return them to their owners. One such man is Chris Turner. 

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Turner has been working as a “detector” for close to half a century, and in that time he has combed many acres of ground in search of precious treasures. During this period, he has amassed a great deal of experience. In addition, he has helped many people who have lost or misplaced precious possessions.

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The Ring Finders

After gaining experience in searching for lost possessions, Turner took on an ambitious project. It was his impression that people around the world, in many countries, have lost valuable and important items. 

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Now that technology has made the world a great deal smaller, and one can instantly connect with others across the globe, Turner decided to use that technology to match up owners with their lost treasures. He started a website called The Ring Finders. His mission, as the site says, is to connect people with the items they’ve lost.  

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Meet Chris Turner

Chris Turner, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, has been honing his skills in the art of metal detecting for over 51 years, and throughout that time, he has devoted more than 29 of those years to assisting other people in discovering their lost rings. 

Source: Detectorsforgold

The ultimate aim of his website, The Ring Finders, is to return lost objects. His vast experience with searching all sorts of places where buried items can be uncovered makes him an expert, and his kind heart makes him want to help others.

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The Ring Finders’ goal

The Ring Finders is an online database of people whose hobby is finding lost items. These hobbyists specialize in finding lost items left at such places as beaches, parks, and backyards – all over the world.  

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The directory has been online for over ten years. Anyone can enter the site and find a treasure-hunting expert in their area. An individual can contact a specialist and ask for help in finding a lost item. The hunters are happy to assist others in recovering possessions they had given up hope of ever finding again.

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The specialists

Turner enjoys talking about the success of the directory. The statistics of items found and returned are quite impressive. In most cases in which they become involved, the hunters have indeed found the lost items.

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Turner happily admits that he has taken on many cases himself and has thoroughly enjoyed searching for and finding lost items. For him, the search is a true joy, and if he is able to return someone’s precious memento, it makes him happy. 

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Impressive Statistics

“My goal is to help you get reunited with your lost jewelry,” Turner states on his website.. “The Ring Finders’ members have recorded over 5,610 successful recoveries to date and…I personally have had the honor to find and return over 316 lost rings to their very happy owners.”

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Aside from the number of returns, the searchers have their own personal blog pages where they relate their stories. They write about the searches, their success and failures, and their personal approach to treasure-hunting.

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Touching Stories

Turner is especially proud of the tales and anecdotes that clients share with him. These stories, to him, are the most important part of the task. It’s great to find a lost item, but when the individual who lists it is reunited with it, the scene can be emotional.

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And the veteran treasure hunter who has found many lost relics is not shy about saying how important finding these items is to him. This, he feels, is the true value of his work.

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More valuable than money

Furthermore, according to what Turner writes on his website, “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.”

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“This, by far, has been the greatest job I’ve ever had,” he says, “I get to make people smile!” It’s obvious that any monetary reward Turner gets from his hobby is not as important as the reactions of his clients.

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Creditable specialists 

On his website, Turner applauds the talents of all of the specialists listed in the directory. These specialists are highly experienced and have had many successful hunts for lost objects. 

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Now, these experienced hunters are part of a network joining together on The Ring Finder website so that they can share their experiences and help people looking for lost items. One point, however, he wants to make very clear.

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You’re in reliable hands

The point that Turner emphasizes is that each treasure hunter on the website is independent and sets their own rates and terms. Although they share their experience, they do not work as a company.  

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He also emphasizes that the responsibility for the failure or success of the search is solely that of the specialist that is hired and is not Turner’s responsibility. It is important for someone searching through the website to understand that although Turner is running the site, he is not in charge of each and every specialist.

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The Book of Smiles

In addition to this, Turner has one more thing he would like to convey to the people who are interested in the services that he offers. The owner of The Ring Finders directs website users to a part of the business’s website titled “Book of Smiles,” which has images of Ring Finders’s past clients wearing jewelry that was lost but later discovered and given to them. 

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He believes that it should go without saying that there is always room for additional clients and many more smiles.

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The passion 

Turner encourages visitors to his website to look at the Book of Smiles. His dearest wish is that each person checking the site will once again see his or her lost item.  As he writes, “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.” 

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We look forward to helping you find your smile!” This is further evidence of The Ring Finders’ dedication. They put the satisfaction of others ahead of financial gain.

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The unique hobby

Turner mentioned in a recent post that the online service offers access to a range of professionals, each with their own specialized level of competence and years of experience. Luke Berube is now considered to be one of the members of the user community of the website because he joined that community in 2018 when it was first established. 

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Treasure hunting is not his primary source of income, but it is a highly interesting hobby that he pursues in his spare time.

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Luke Berube

The following is an introduction to Luke Berube that was posted on the directory page of the website. It was written by Luke, “My name is Luke Berube I am from Orleans Massachusetts I have been detecting for approximately 12 years,

Source: RingFinders website

I am an advanced open water certified diver, licensed boat captain, and avid mountain biker.” After that moment, he starts to reveal a little bit more about himself to the audience. He actively published blog posts from time to time.

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More info about Luke

Luke Berube further added the following statements in his bio: “I am 28 years old, I have been spraying Line-x truck bed liners for 11 years as my profession, which takes up a lot of my time, but I always find a way to take some time to pursue my hobbies of detecting, diving, and biking”

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In his bio, the Orleans native also vouches for the fact that he is ready to search for objects both on land and in the water.

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Stories of his success findings

There is more fascinating material on Berube’s profile page. Actually, the recreational scuba diver writes blog posts about his adventures which shed more light on his work and his clients.

Source: RingFinders website

In addition, many of his clients have provided their very own reviews of the work that he has done for them.

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Standing out above others

And among all of these varied posts, there is one that stands out as particularly outstanding in comparison to the others. Berube’s abilities were put to the ultimate test after he made a discovery in Hanson back in June 2019. He found something there, and it was there that he was tested.

Source: Boston.cbslocal

Because of the discovery, the treasure hunter was forced into amateur detective work. He had to figure out how to research the owner of this ring, and he was determined to complete the task.

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Burned out

Berube said in one of his blog postings that he had not been very successful in his treasure searching over the previous month, with the exception of finding a few old silver coins. This was, to say the least, a bit depressing.

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So he decided to take a break and go diving in a pond he’d never searched before, about an hour away from Cape Cod. At least, he thought,  that would be something new and different. 

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The hunting continues

In his blog, Berube described what the water was like when he got to the pond. “The water temperature was about 70 at the surface and 65 at about eight to ten feet deep.” 

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As soon as he dove down, he noticed a brass signet ring that looked valuable but wasn’t, so he passed that up. It’s interesting that an experienced diver must find so many items in ponds and lakes and can’t possibly retrieve all of them. He has to decide which are worth taking.

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Finding treasures in never been easy

According to Berube’s blog, he remained underwater, hoping to find something else. He was willing to look around since he was on no particular schedule.  After all, since he’d found one ring, maybe there were more items around the same area.

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Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t find any more buried treasure in the pond. Still, he walked around on the pond floor just to try a little harder. There was clearly nothing else to take, so Berube had to make a decision. 

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Almost giving up

Berube recalled and described that after a couple of hours, his air supply was getting dangerously low, so he got back in his truck to return to Cape Cod. He remembered another pond where he’d had some success in the past, so he was heading for that.   

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Just before he got into his car, something made him go back to the pond for one last look, metal detector in hand. He’ll never know what made him do that, but he is certainly glad he did.  

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The signal from Excalibur

That moment of indecision and turning back to the pond proved vital. He writes, “While heading back [into the pond], I got a solid mid-tone on my Minelab Excalibur II.”

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The Minelab Excalibur is his metal detector signal equipment. Then he continues,  “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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An intriguing piece of jewelry

Berube’s instinct to go back to the pond proved correct – he’d discovered two rings that day, but the one he had just dug up was much more interesting. 

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The fact that the item was more than half a century old and had some initials on it led to an interesting situation for Berube, who now had to decide what to do with a ring that offered up so much identifying information.

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The ring is identified 

Berube wrote, “It turned out to be a class ring from Gate of Heaven high school in South Boston, class of 1960, with the initials WJW.”  He began to search for the ring’s owner but failed to find anyone who graduated that year with those initials. 

Source: Boston.cbslocal

After he had gone into the same pond twice, purely on instinct, and dug up this unique piece of jewelry, he was not about to give up. Just because he hadn’t found the owner on his first try, he was determined to keep looking. 

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Some leads to WJW

Berube was savvy about social media and decided to use it to find the owner of the ring. After all, as he knew, once you post something on social media and your friends see it, the request begins to be shared by many others.

Source: Boston.cbslocal

So Berube’s first stop was to post a picture of the ring, a description, and the location where it was found. Incredibly, he quickly heard from lots of people who were able to lead him in the right direction. 

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School Alumni

On Facebook, he found a group of the school’s alumni. He explained to the owner of the group why he wanted to join, even though he was not a graduate of the school, he was allowed to post to the group.  

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Berube shared a photo of the ring along with a plea to the alumni group. He asked them to please help him to find the owner of this ring.  That was early on a Sunday, at around six in the morning.

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Unexpected messages and lead

Berube did not have to wait much longer than that to get the response he was looking for; he got it within just a few hours. By noon he had received a text message from a woman named Christine Wadel. 

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As Berube writes in his blog, Christine thought the ring might have belonged to her father, William Joseph Wadel. Those were the initials, WJW!  Berube had hit on the best lead in a matter of hours.

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Bringing the pieces of the puzzle together

After learning about the post that Berube had made on Facebook, Wadel contacted her father in order to inquire whether or not he was aware of the post. Then she asked him to look at the post to see if the ring was his.  

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In June 2019, she shared the story on WBZ-TV.  “I called my Dad and said, ‘Dad, could this be yours?’” she told WBZ-TV. “And he says, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘You lost a ring?’ And he said, ‘Yes!’”

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The Gate of Heaven’s alumnus

In 1960, Wadel’s father graduated from Gate of Heaven High School and received his graduation ring, as did all of his classmates. Sometime after that, the ring had become lost, and Wadel had never found it.

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But there’s more to the story. Wadel didn’t lose the ring on his own. Instead, it was someone else who was responsible for the ring’s disappearance. The story was not a happy one, so Wadel was even happier that his ring turned up. 

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The puzzle is solved

Berube learned from Wadel’s daughter that the return of the ring had a profound emotional impact on her father. She was so touched and moved by the effort Berube had undertaken to return the ring that she decided to tell him more about her dad.

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Berube reported that Christine sent a picture of her dad and a photo of his high school diploma. She just wanted Berube to know a little more about her father. Berube was happy that he could return this precious item to Mr. Wadel. 

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Returning the mysterious ring to its owner

After having that discussion, Berube and Wadel discussed how he would get the ring to Mr. Wadel, who lived in Virginia, hundreds of miles away from Berube’s home in Massachusetts.

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She decided that, after all of the efforts Berube had gone to in order to return the ring, the least she could do was personally get the ring from him and bring it to her dad. She was happy to be part of this saga.

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Wadel sets off to Cape

So Christine Wadel set off for Cape Cod to retrieve the ring. She wanted to give it to her dad that weekend when she planned to visit him. Christine was imagining how happy her father would be to see that old ring.   

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Berube in the meantime, had contacted the local TV station, WBZ-TV, to cover the handover of the precious ring. The camera crew and a report came along to document the moment. 

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The Ring’s Journey is Complete

For Berube, this was one of the high points of his life as a treasure hunter. It might even have been a high point in his life. One doesn’t always believe that a hobby that you simply enjoy every once in a while will end up making another person so happy.

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He concluded his blog,  “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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