BELFAST, Maine — Last Saturday, people cleaning out their medicine cabinets dropped off more than 100 pounds of prescription drugs at the Belfast Police Department for National Take-Back Day.
Among the jumbled heaps of painkillers, heart medicine, over-the-counter medication, and vitamins was a surprising treasure: a silver wedding band found tucked into a pill box.
A doctor who was doing some random reviewing of the haul at the police station was the first to spot the ring.
“I saw a glint of metal, and I didn’t know of any metallic pills, so I opened up the container and there it was,” Dr. Stevan Gressitt, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of New England School of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, said Friday. “I was just surprised, and then I realized maybe someone would put something valuable to them in with their pills.”
With a little police work, authorities were able to trace the ring back to its source.
Sgt. Walter Corey of the Belfast Police Department remembered that a Waldo County Sheriff’s Office deputy had been the one to drop off that particular batch of pills. He contacted Deputy Gerry Lincoln, who said the medicine had come from the home of an elderly Waldo County man who had died alone several weeks ago.
Police who responded after the unattended death of the man, whom they did not identify, were careful to confiscate the medication they found there.
Lincoln dropped the pills, containers and all, into the cardboard collection box at the police station.
“We don’t leave medications in the houses because of the drug issue that creates,” Corey said.
Officials called the deceased man’s son, who lives in Madison, and asked about the silver band.
The son thought it might have belonged to his father’s ex-wife, Corey said, and was glad to hear that it had turned up.
The sergeant placed the ring in an envelope and mailed it to the son’s home this week.
But then the tale of the ring took another twist.
“The family called and said they got the envelope, but no ring,” Corey said.
The mailman said the ring was safely in the envelope when it was delivered to the home. But the family found only a ripped envelope with the sergeant’s business card inside.
According to the family and Belfast police, the silver ring, once lost, then found, has been lost again.
Corey said he did not know if the missing ring has been reported to police in Madison.
It wasn’t the only strange thing to surface during the drug take-back program at the Belfast Police Department.
In addition to Belfast’s share of Maine’s 11,920 pounds of drugs returned to authorities that day — more pills per capita than in any other New England state — someone dropped off a box of dog leashes, Gressitt said.
“Between the wedding ring and the dog leashes, it was an interesting day,” he said.