February 05, 2014 - For most folks, class rings are simply pieces of jewelry to be worn with pride, given to loved ones as tokens of affection or pawned in tough times.
Don DeFalle (click for larger version)
But for Addison resident Don DeFalle, they're one of the few tangible connections he has left to his deceased mother and father.
"They were very sentimental gifts from my parents," he said. "It's basically all I have left (of them) other than pictures and things like that."
Unfortunately, DeFalle suspects his high school and college rings were stolen by a man he had befriended and was trying to help get back on his feet. The man in question has a criminal record involving drugs and a history of mental illness.
"I just feel so violated and so victimized," DeFalle said. "I did all I could for him."
The 1968 high school ring is from Perry High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"It was gold with a blue stone with the high school insignia in the middle of it," DeFalle said.
The 1985 college ring is from the University of Pittsburgh. It's 18-carat gold with a black onyx stone. It has D.P. DeFalle inscribed on the inside of the ring.
DeFalle, who volunteers with the free meals program at Oxford United Methodist Church, noticed the rings were missing from the jewelry box in his bedroom on Jan. 15.
The last time he had seen them was roughly six months before. He believes the man who might have taken them probably did so in either August or September 2013.
DeFalle tried to give the man the benefit of the doubt. At first, he thought perhaps he had misplaced them, but his searches turned up nothing. "I've looked everywhere," he said. "I can't find them."
He didn't wear the rings on a regular basis or move them around. He just kept them in his jewelry box. The man he suspects stole them had access to his bedroom.
DeFalle filed a report with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office and checked a local store that buys gold, but so far, he's had no luck locating his cherished mementos.
"I haven't heard anything," he said.
Losing these rings has taken a toll on him.
"I'm so upset over it," he said. "I'm having trouble sleeping. I'm just obsessing over it."
Ironically, DeFalle moved to Addison in June 2008 in search of "a simpler, quieter life."
"I just wanted to get out of the big city, Pittsburgh, and (lead) a less complicated life."
As a Christian man, DeFalle said he's already forgiven the man he believes stole his rings. He has no interest in retribution. His only concern is recovering them.
"Please return them," he said. "I already told the police I wouldn't press charges if I got the rings back."
Anyone with information regarding DeFalle's rings is asked to please call the Oxford Leader at (248) 628-4801.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.