By David Greisman, email@example.com
1:45 PM EDT, August 23, 2011
Won in an NFL championship game more than five decades ago, lost in the Far East in 1977, a famed former Baltimore Colt's stolen ring has been recovered in Howard County.
The ring, which belongs to Hall of Fame defensive tackle Art Donovan, was found in Elkridge, according to the Howard County Police Department.
Police say they had received a tip that a seller in Howard County was offering Donovan's ring on Craigslist at a price of $20,000. Investigators contacted the 86-year-old and were told the ring had been stolen in 1977 during a trip to Hong Kong, police said.
Detectives, posing as potential buyers, met the seller, Charles Ice of Ellicott City, at the former Harley Davidson dealership in Elkridge, which closed earlier this year. Ice's wife, Katina, had opened the shop 20 years ago.
"Once the officers had the ring in hand, they advised the seller that it was believed to be stolen property," police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said in a news release. "After interviewing the seller, police determined that he had not known the ring had been stolen."
The seller's wife's family had bought the ring from a sports memorabilia dealer "many years ago in what was believed to be a legitimate transaction," Llewellyn said.
The man relinquished the ring. No criminal charges will be filed in the case, police said.
According to a police report, Katina Ice told detectives her deceased husband, Harry "Eddy" Wehner III, had won $40,000 from Las Vegas slot machines in 1997 or 1998 and had used about $15,000 of that to purchase the ring.
Ice said Wehner, who liked to collect jewelry, bought the ring at a bar in Curtis Bay, Md. She said she never learned who the seller was, but that the seller did tell Wehner the ring had been stolen in Hong Kong.
Ice told police that Wehner contacted Donovan, but the football player said he didn't want the ring back because his insurance company had compensated him for its loss.
The ring had been kept in a safe for more than a dozen years. With the Harley Davidson shop closed, the Ices were melting down Wehner's old jewelry for money but felt Donovan's ring could fetch more on the market. They had been offered $18,000 but wanted at least $20,000, she said.
Donovan told detectives the ring had disappeared from a hotel room in Hong Kong. He and his wife never contacted authorities "because the incident happened in Hong Kong and they thought nothing could be done about it," the police report said.
Donovan said a jeweler in Baltimore had contacted him in the late '80s or early '90s about brokering a deal to return to the ring, but he didn't want to pay for something that was his.
Donovan's longtime insurance agent told police there is no record of the football player ever receiving compensation for the stolen ring.
Before returning the ring to Donovan, police had it authenticated. Though it was engraved with Donovan's name and jersey number, detectives wanted to make sure it was the real thing. They sent it to the manufacturer via the Indianapolis Colts, which keeps the former Baltimore team's records, police said.
Detectives then brought the ring to Donovan.
Earlier in their investigation, they had him try the ring on. It still fit.
This version corrects an earlier one stating the ring was stolen in Japan.