Kanawha detectives recover class ring, return to North Carolina man nearly 50 years later

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A 1965 high school class ring is back on the hand of a North Carolina man who lost it nearly 50 years ago while visiting family in West Virginia.

Michael Pedneau, of Raleigh, NC., said he was in the military when he noticed his ring from Needham Broughton High School was missing.

“I kept it through graduation and lost it sometime in the late 1960s or when I was in the military. I think probably in the late 60s on a trip up to visit my cousins, aunt and uncle in Princeton, West Virginia,” he said.

Pedneau made a special visit to pick up the ring at the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office in Charleston Tuesday after receiving a call from detectives earlier this year.

Detective J.R. Coleman said they found the ring after impounding a vehicle involved in a copper theft investigation near Cabin Creek in February.

“We found various items, but one of the things that stuck out was a really old box and when I opened it up, it had a Needham Broughton High School class ring from 1965 in it. It had the imprint of ‘M.P.’ on the inside of the band,” Coleman said.

After a search of the class list, Coleman said he called the first name with the initials “M.P.” and sure enough, it turned out to be Michael Pedneau’s class ring he had been searching for.

“I said to him I did have a class ring,” Pedneau said when the detective called him. “I think I told him that I didn’t do anything wrong in Kanawha County. At first I thought, how in the world did he find it 50 years after it had gone missing?”

Pedneau said he traveled so many places with the Marines and Navy, that he forgot about the ring until he got married in Dec. 1968.

“I missed it because I didn’t have any ring to give her,” he said about his wife Betsy. “I think I finally found one from a pin and had a wedding ring made out of that for her.”

Coleman said these cases don’t happen often.

“Most of the time when people get their stuff lost or stolen, it’s a very slim chance that we get it back to them. Anytime that we can get something back, especially something that’s sentimental to somebody, it’s very rewarding,” he said.

The class ring is an item Pedneau knows his high school friends will appreciate when he makes it back to North Carolina.

“It’s something that I can share with my classmates. There’s probably 40-50 of us that get together monthly for lunch. We’re all old, so we enjoy sharing and swapping stories and this is one that I’ll share with them, show them the ring and have some fun around it.”

To help someone recover part of their past means a lot, Coleman said.

“It’s awesome to feel like you get something back for somebody that they’ve countered it out and they never thought they were going to see it again. Here it is back in their life and they can keep it for their family or as long as they want,” he said.

Pedneau said the ring won’t stay in its box this time.

“I’m going to clean it up and I’m going to wear it,” he said.