Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

West County Woman's 12.5-Carat Diamond Ring Tossed in Trash, Recovered by Garbage Worker

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

West County Woman's 12.5-Carat Diamond Ring Tossed in Trash, Recovered by Garbage Worker

Article excerpt

Standing in the middle of several tons of trash, Bernie and Carla Squitieri and the men helping them were all highly doubtful.

The garbage truck had pulled away from their Clarkson Valley home hours earlier, stopping at hundreds of houses after that, compacting more and more garbage on top of theirs as it continued on the trash route.

It was a little before noon at home Monday when Carla Squitieri started to panic.

She couldn't find her rings. One had a 12.5-carat diamond, a 15th wedding anniversary present from her husband. The other was an infinity band encrusted with diamonds totaling seven carats.

"I was like a lunatic, ripping the house up," Carla Squitieri said.

Bernie Squitieri froze when they realized the last place she had the rings was on a paper towel in the kitchen, where the jewelry was drying off after she washed dishes. She got distracted. Later that night, he tossed the paper towel in the trash while cleaning up the kitchen.

"We both ran out to the trash, only to realize (the garbage truck) had come and gone," Bernie Squitieri said.

As Carla Squitieri cried, distraught over the loss of rings that she had planned to pass down to her daughter, Bernie Squitieri got on the phone.

All told, the rings are valued at close to $500,000. Though they are fully insured, the jewelry has so much sentimental value Carla Squitieri was willing to dig through mountains of trash to find them and get them back on her finger.

That's how the couple ended up at a trash transfer station in O'Fallon, Mo., wearing white haz-mat suits (feeling like characters from "Ghostbusters") and digging through an estimated eight or nine tons of trash. Hopelessness permeated the scene more than the stink of yesterday's garbage. …

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