When a Utah high school class ring was turned in Sunday at the Maui Police Department, Wailuku patrol officer Ka Ena Brown was determined to see it returned to its owner.
Tracking down the St. Mary of the Wasatch ring owner required an email to the alumni director of the now-closed school, research by a Congregation of Holy Cross sister and a check of the basement furnace of a Salt Lake City home.
Within two days, Jane Razzeca was identified as the owner. By Thursday, the ring was being mailed back to her in San Juan Bautista, Calif., where she now lives.
Wailuku patrol officer Ka Ena Brown helped reunite a ring, found in Happy Valley, with its owner Jane Razzeca of San Juan Bautista, Calif. Persistence by the police officer and a series of coincidences helped find the owner of the ring.
"Isn't this wild?" Razzeca said when reached by phone Thursday. "It's not something I was looking for. It's probably going to have more value to me than it ever did as a young person. I can't believe it."
"This ring was determined to get back to her through me," Brown said. "I was not going to give up. It's like the Hawaiian connection reaching out."
The school ring, with the initials J.M. and the year 1970, was found in the dirt along Kahawai Street in Happy Valley by a couple who live in the area. They had tried to find the owner through Craigslist for about six months, getting no response before turning it in to the police department.
After finding no MPD report of the ring being lost or stolen, Brown began researching the school on the Internet and sent an email to the director of alumni relations for St. Mary of the Wasatch, which closed its Salt Lake City high school in 1970 but continues to run a college on the same campus.
The request reached Sister Jeanette Fettig in the archives of Sisters of the Holy Cross in Notre Dame, Ind. She said a "lot of coincidences" led her to Razzeca.
Looking in the 1970 yearbook of the all-girls Catholic school, she found only one person - Jane McGill - with the initials J.M. in the class of 84 graduates. The sister wondered if Jane McGill might be among alumni with whom the organization was in contact.
Fettig did find another Wasatch graduate named Jane who was living in Salt Lake City, but she had graduated in 1967. Thinking that Jane may have known Jane McGill, Fettig called Jane and learned that she happened to be living in the former McGill home. Some of the sons in the McGill family were still living in the Salt Lake City area and had occasionally shown up at their former house to show their children where they had been raised.
After checking the basement furnace, where the McGill children had written their names, the woman called Fettig back with a phone number for Jane McGill's brother.
Fettig talked to the brother's wife, who called his sister, now Jane Razzeca, and Razzeca called Fettig.
"It all happened within a half-hour," she said.
"It just was one coincidence after another. If it was supposed to happen, it's going to happen."
Brown learned that the ring owner had been located when she returned to work after two days off. She called Razzeca and confirmed that the ring was hers.
Razzeca said she got the ring at the end of her junior year but stopped wearing it right after graduating from high school when she got engaged. Over the years, she had moved and lost track of the ring.
"How it got to Maui, I have no idea," she said. "I haven't thought about that school ring probably in 35 years."
While she was on Maui six years ago for her daughter's wedding in Wailea, Razzeca said she didn't bring the ring with her.
Brown, who has been an officer for 11 and a half years, was recommended for a commendation for the extra work she put into finding the ring owner.
"We are very proud of officer Brown, who epitomizes the spirit of professional policing for the Maui Police Department and the caring nature of the people of Hawaii," said police Chief Gary Yabuta.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.