GALESBURG, Ill. - An Illinois police detective has finally identified the rightful owner of a 79-year-old wedding ring, after it sat in evidence for 'many years.'
From inside the Galesburg Police Department's evidence vault, Sergeant Bryan Anderson cracks all types of cases as sergeant of Evidence and Training. Just last month, he embarked on a new search, a path that led him and an old, gold ring to the ring's new owner and admirer, Jim Clark.
On the inside of the ring, etched in the gold are the initials "HM" and "HC" and the date, November 24, 1945.
It took a lot of research to make the reunion possible.
Every day for a year, Anderson passed the ring in his evidence vault.
"I don't know why, but I picked it up one day and saw the inscription," he told WQAD.
With just two sets of initials and a date, Anderson was on the hunt.
"It required a little bit more work to get another tidbit of information," he said.
After searching through hundreds of marriage records, the determined detective found a match. Howard and Helen Clark married on November 24, 1945 in Knox County. Both died years later in Knox County, so Anderson set out to search through obituaries. That's how he found Jim, Howard and Helen's son.
"From a family's point of view, it would have been important to them," Jim said.
Jim helped Anderson fill in some of the missing pieces of the story.
The couple grew up just outside Galesburg and got engaged before Howard left to serve in WWII. They got married right when he returned in 1945 and moved away to the Chicago suburbs to raise their family. Then, they moved back to the area where they retired and passed away.
Jim said he believes the ring was a gift from his father to his mother, and now he has it back.
"It's been pretty emotional. I've enjoyed looking back on all these old pictures," he said.
But, one big question remains: how did the ring end up in the Galesburg Police Department's evidence vault? Jim said that mystery doesn't need to be solved since this story has a happy ending.
Anderson said he still wants to try to find out how the ring got to the police station. Even if he doesn't, though, he's still content with the outcome of his investigation.
"I'm glad I could help your family. It was a fun adventure, and I'm glad we got some closure," he said. "One day, when I retire, this will be the story I tell."
Jim said he will keep the ring forever as a reminder of his parents.