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When an engagement ring goes missing, a local man steps in to help
Gina Hanner had no idea she'd dropped her wedding rings at the entrance to Holleybrooke subdivision in Spotsylvania.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY EDIE GROSS
Frantically swinging a rented metal detector left and right, Gina Hanner traversed the grassy shoulder at the entrance to Spotsylvania County's Holleybrooke subdivision.
The device detected bits of foil and metallic trash, but there was no sign of the item Hanner came for.
Then it started to snow.
And then she slipped and fell.
"I'm completely covered in mud," Hanner recalled of that miserable March Monday. "I'm sure people driving by thought I was crazy."
No crazier than any other woman desperately trying to find her diamond engagement ring.
'I KIND OF FREAKED OUT'
It could've been anywhere, but Hanner was pretty sure she was in the right spot.
She and her husband, Nick, who live in Woodbridge, had celebrated a friend's birthday in Spotsylvania two days earlier.
On their way home late that Saturday night, they pulled over at the entrance to Holleybrooke so Nick could get out of the car and smoke a cigarette.
That's when his wife pulled a lighter out of her pants pocket--the same pocket where she'd tucked her wedding band and engagement ring earlier that night for safekeeping.
After the break, the couple headed home and it wasn't until the next morning that Hanner realized her rings were gone.
"I kind of freaked out," said Hanner, who returned immediately with her husband to search.
Nick's eagle eyes spied her wedding band nestled in the grass. But the diamond ring he'd picked out for her had vanished.
Hanner returned the next day with the rented metal detector, but after several hours of fruitless searching, she returned home empty-handed.
"I was certain somebody walked past it, grabbed it and took off with it," she said. "I cried for three days straight. I was making myself sick."
She filed a report with the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office, and as a last-ditch effort she posted a plea on Craigslist.
AN ACT OF KINDNESS
Brian Ratcliffe's friend had bought an inexpensive metal detector to locate buried property markers on his land.
When Ratcliffe expressed an interest in buying the device, his buddy gave it to him. The Fredericksburg man immediately found an old silver dime in his backyard.
"I said, 'Oh, I want to get into this,'" recalled Ratcliffe, who dropped $1,200 on a more advanced model.