REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area family, grieving from the death of a loved one, is still wondering what happened to a wedding ring with tremendous sentimental value.
More than a month ago, as Bill Halvorsen was being treated for a rare form of brain cancer at Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City, his family noticed something was missing from the Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart Recipient's hand.
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"It was disappointing and very heartbreaking." Says Bill's widow, Penny.
The gold ring, with their wedding date inscribed inside, was missing. The pair had been married 47 years and he never took the ring off.
The family believes the ring was stolen by a nurse who was giving Bill a sponge bath.
While video cameras monitoring Bill's condition were not recording at the time, one of Bill and Penny's sons, Pete, says the timing just does not add up.
"We knew it had to have been taken off, there's no way it accidentally fallen off," says Pete.
Penny, who had been sleeping by her husband's bedside, noticed something uncharacteristic. "The right side of his body is paralyzed," she said. "He was swinging with one of his hands at the nurse who was giving him a bath and the nurse said, "Don't hit me Bill, don't hit me!"
Pete pointed to a photo of his father's hand which, after several days, bears a red indentation mark where the ring had been for nearly five decades.
After learning of ABC7's story in August, the hospital responded in a statement saying:
"We are deeply sorry for this experience and apologize that we have been unable to locate Mr. Halvorsen's wedding ring. When we were made aware of the loss on Saturday, we began an extensive search to locate his ring, including interviewing all staff members involved in Mr. Halvorsen's care, carefully searching his room and locations where he received treatment, sifting through trash, and working with our linen supplier. We will continue our efforts, and will cooperate with any police investigation. Our hearts go out to the family during this difficult time."
Penny and Bill Halvorsen
Since then, Redwood City police opened an investigation, which is still ongoing, and confirm interviewing members of the hospital staff.
Bill Halvorsen passed away several weeks later, and a celebration of life ceremony was held on Sept. 8. It was a fitting tribute to his accomplished life.
"He loved people and that was definitely highlighted in his service on Saturday. He was an amazing man for sure," says Penny.
In the days before the ceremony, Kaiser sent the Halvorsens a letter, stating their investigation was complete, not addressing the possibility the ring was stolen. To Penny, it was a slap in the face.
"All of the facts were incorrect in what they stated in the letter, and their next steps forward is to go to binding arbitration," she says, shaking her head.
We reached out to the hospital, asking specifically what happened to the nurse who was giving Bill a sponge bath before the ring went missing.
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Kaiser responded with a statement from Senior Vice President Sheila Gilson:
"We are deeply sorry for this experience and apologize that, despite an extensive search and interviews with staff, we have been unable to locate Mr. Halvorsen's wedding ring. We understand the sentimental and emotional value of the ring cannot be replaced and our hearts go out to the family during this difficult time.
All hospital staff that cared for Mr. Halvorsen have been interviewed by police and we continue to cooperate with the police investigation. We don't comment on private personnel matters."
The Halvorsens say upon word of a follow-up story, Gilson reached out Monday, offering "compensation."
But to the family, it's not about money. It's about preventing future heartbreak for others.
"I don't want to keep hanging on to this but who he is and what he stands for...the scales of justice. I would hate for this to happen to someone else," says Penny.
The bright spot to come out of the family's ordeal: the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department paid tribute to Bill's 32 years of service by having a replica ring made, complete with inscription inside. While is certainly doesn't replace the original, it does bring some comfort to the family.
The Halvorsens are now offering a $5,000 reward to whoever can help locate the ring. If you can help, email: IFoundBillsRing@gmail.com.
Veteran whose wedding ring went missing at Redwood City hospital passes away
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