PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A woman in Kentucky got the surprise of her life when she recently got a message from Pennsylvania, an answer to a mystery at least 20 years old.
Sometime around 1997 in Chester County, Carol Houck’s then-husband found two class rings while cleaning at Downingtown High School West.
“And I said, ‘Well, maybe sometime we’ll find out who they belong to,'” said Carol, who lives in the Coatesville area.
One ring was a small 1994 Purdue ring with a blue stone, engraved with a name: Kathleen L. Bancroft. The other, a 1990 Downingtown High School ring, was stamped with three initials: GFM.
Eventually the rings were packed away and nearly forgotten. Recently, during a move, Carol found the rings again.
Her daughter, Emily Carlisle, tried to find Kathleen L. Bancroft. “Most people I found are teenagers,” Emily said.
Then Emily found a Kathleen Bancroft Magsam in Kentucky.
“So my daughter said, ‘I’m gonna message her!'” Carol said.
Emily messaged Kathleen through Facebook and asked if she went to Purdue. The answer came back: yes.
The next message to Kathleen: “Did you lose your ring?”
“I said, ‘Yes, a long time ago,'” Kathleen said.
“So right away we got kind of goosebumps, thinking this must be her,” Carol said.
A picture confirmed it was Kathleen’s ring. But that was only half the mystery.
“How would we find who this ring might belong to with just initials?” Carol said.
Emily reached out to Kathleen again: “I told her where they were found, and she didn’t go to Downingtown High School, but her husband did,” Emily said. “We had seen that her last name now began with an M, and the initials in the ring were GFM. I just looked at my mother and said, ‘This can’t be!'”
Kathleen’s husband took a look: “We ended up getting pictures of them, and sure enough, there’s no mistaking my ring,” he said.
Geoff Francis Magsam, a carpenter, and Kathleen, a veterinary instructor, lived in Chester County until 2011, when they moved outside Lexington.
“That was a long time ago!” Geoff said.
Kathleen and Geoff suspect the rings were stolen around 1997. They never expected to see them again.
Carol was delighted. “Not only have we found both owners, but they’re married! And not only were they married, it was just their 20th anniversary,” she said.
Carol has lived with the rings for so long, she admits she will miss them. But most 20-somethings leave the nest. These will too.
Carol and Emily joke they would love to deliver the rings in person, but they expect to use the mail.