When Daniel Roark opened his computer Saturday morning, among the stream of Facebook messages in his inbox was one from a woman in Mexico claiming that a wedding ring he had found belonged to her cousin Jessica’s husband.
Roark’s response, after a two-month search for the ring’s owner had garnered numerous false claims: “Are you for real?”
The woman who messaged Roark offered as evidence her cousin’s wedding photos, including a picture of two identical rings — one of which was lost on the couple’s honeymoon scuba diving in a reef off the eastern tip of Mexico.
Roark, 21, of Gloucester, was still skeptical. He estimated that about 50 people had tried to claim the ring, which he had found while scuba diving in that same reef more than a year later.
Hundreds of thousands of people posting about the ring on social media had widely publicized Roark’s hunt for the owner of a gold wedding ring with braided engraving on the band, inside which was engraved “JESSICA 16 02 13 TYYJCEM.”
After the cousin’s message, Roark contacted Jessica Garza through her Facebook page.
She doesn’t speak English, so her husband, Martin Castillo, answered a series of questions about the ring: What size was it? 12½. What was the gold? 14 carat. What was the other tiny word inscribed in it? MEX. Do you have Jessica’s matching ring? Yes, and the photo.
Castillo sent a photo of the ring receipt, with all of the information corroborated.
“There’s no question that this was definitely theirs,” Roark said.
The ring had slipped off while Castillo and Garza were scuba diving off Mexico’s Barracuda Point on the first day of their honeymoon in February 2013.
Back on the boat, the two realized that the ring was missing and waited more than five hours by the dock as their scuba instructor unsuccessfully searched for it.
“We thought it was gone,” said Castillo.
Two months ago, Roark went scuba diving in the same waters and spotted a gold flash — the ring.
When Rourk, who has trained as a diver, returned from his trip, he took to social media to find the ring’s owner. He started by posting on his Facebook page and on the pages of celebrities, “since I don’t have their audiences,” he said.
More than 120,000 people have shared his original Facebook post and even more shared a post on the page of Star Trek star turned social media celebrity George Takei.
While it initially gained some significant traction — in the hundreds of thousands of shares — then it slowed to about 1,000 shares per day.
“I thought, ‘That’s it; no luck,’ ” Roark said.
Last week, it inexplicably took off again, up past 100,000 shares, Roark said. When the news media picked up the story, word traveled through the Mexican media, where Roark thinks Garza’s cousin saw it.
Reached Saturday night at the couple’s home in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Castillo said he was amazed by the extent of the social media effort that led up to the reconnection with the ring.
“We had no idea that someone was looking for us,” Castillo said.
Castillo called Roark an “angel.”
“You have no idea what this means [to us],” he said.
Finding the missing ring was a light in what has been a dark and “difficult journey” for Castillo and Garza, who have each suffered the loss of a family member recently.
At one point, the couple nearly canceled their wedding after the death of Garza’s aunt, but ultimately decided to proceed with the ceremony after being encouraged to do so by her family.
The couple moved to Nuevo Laredo, just south of the Texas border, because Castillo’s father was very ill. In October, he died.
The discovery that the ring had been found brought smiles to their faces Saturday.
“I feel very grateful,” he said. “I have no words.”
The effort had an especially positive ending for the couple, Rourk said. After what they had been through, this affirmed to them that “there are a lot of good people still out there.”Jennifer Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Juan Esteban Cajigas Jimenez can be reached at Juan.email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Esteban_Cajigas.