28-year-old mystery solved in Glen Rock as missing wedding band is returned to its owner

·3 min read

GLEN ROCK — The gold band was tangled in roots under 5 inches of dirt when Michele Cohen dug it up.

Cohen was making a new flower bed this month outside her Van Allen Road home when she saw the metal glint. She cleaned off the wedding ring and found a pair of initials and a date on the inside: "10/31/92."

"I asked my neighbor if he knew anyone with those initials who had lived there, and he said no," she recalled this week.

Cohen didn't realize it at the time, but she was about to solve a mystery that had lingered for 28 years — and add another chapter to a more-than-30-year-old love story.

Shawn Emery holds his wedding ring which has been missing for the last 28 years until found by Michele Cohen in her garden in Glen Rock. The Emery's wedding anniversary is engraved on the inside of the ring.
Shawn Emery holds his wedding ring which has been missing for the last 28 years until found by Michele Cohen in her garden in Glen Rock. The Emery's wedding anniversary is engraved on the inside of the ring.

Her next step was to post a photo of the ring on the "Glen Rockers" Facebook page.

"I found a wedding band on my lawn," she wrote on June 7. She noted the inscription on the band, "DFE & SCE," but not the date. "If you lost your ring or know who it may belong to," she explained, "please message me (and be prepared to tell me the date inscribed to claim it)."

From there, fellow Glen Rocker Laura Occhipinti took up the challenge.

"I assumed it was a Glen Rock resident, and there aren't many people with last names starting in E," Occhipinti said in an interview. "I did a land records search and found them. It took about 20 seconds."

A mile away on Franklin Place, Debbie Frances Emery got a message on Glen Rockers from Occhipinti.

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A three-decade-old question had been answered, in a relationship that goes back much further.

Debbie and her husband, Shawn Christopher Emery, were Glen Rock High School classmates, graduating in 1977. She'd sat behind Shawn in alphabetically arranged homerooms for six years without more than a friendly exchange of banter. They reconnected after college on a double date.

The couple, both now 63 years old, were married in the Community Church of Glen Rock on Halloween, Oct. 31,1992, with a reception following at the Park Ridge Marriott.

From left: Michele Cohen, Shawn Emery and his wife Debbie Emery in Cohen's front yard in Glen Rock, where she found Shawn's wedding ring 28 years after it went missing.
From left: Michele Cohen, Shawn Emery and his wife Debbie Emery in Cohen's front yard in Glen Rock, where she found Shawn's wedding ring 28 years after it went missing.

"We wanted a fall wedding, and that was the only date they had open for the reception," Shawn said. "It had nothing to do with Halloween, although I do remember some fluorescent headbands at the reception."

Shawn, a construction worker, estimated he lost his wedding band sometime in 1994, but did not know exactly where or when. He frequently took the ring off and slipped it into a pocket while on the job, he said.

After a futile search, he hid the ring's loss from Debbie for a year, telling her it was "in a drawer or under the socks somewhere."

Shawn and Debbie Emery of Glen Rock with his wedding ring, recovered after 28 years in time for their 30th anniversary.
Shawn and Debbie Emery of Glen Rock with his wedding ring, recovered after 28 years in time for their 30th anniversary.

"I knew I was in for a butt-whippin' when she found out," he said.

The couple were living in Hawthorne at the time, and "we tore the place apart looking for it," added Debbie.

They eventually replaced Shawn's ring but never had the replacement engraved.

And there the Glen Rock Ring Cycle seemed to have ended, until Laura Occhipinti's message about Michele Cohen's discovery arrived.

"We couldn't figure out how the ring got there until Michele said she'd bought the house from Buzz Whitmore, a real estate agent my husband knew," Debbie said. "Shawn had done some work for him at the house."

"I was a little teary," she added, "since our 30th anniversary is in October."

Shawn called the recovery of his ring "a nice surprise" and is having it resized to fit over an enlarged knuckle.

"It's never coming off again," he promised.

Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: stoltz@northjersey.com

Twitter: @marsha_stoltz

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Wedding ring lost to NJ couple 28 years ago found at long last