BEACHWOOD,Ohio - UPDATE Nov. 15:
Researchers at the Western Reserve Historical Society found further information on one of the names found on a stolen pocket watch turned in anonymously to Beachwood police.
An obituary with the same name and spelling found in an inscription on a Waltham pocket watch also matched the time frame of the date inscribed, Sept.6, 1892. The obituary was found in a 1923 Cleveland paper listing the relatives of "Relie." I contacted relatives late Wednesday evening. After discussions with Beachwood police, the family is unsure of the inscribed "H.T.S." on the necklace, but their name does begin with the letter 'S.' Their original relative's name was Rothman.
W.R.H.S. Referece Supervisor, Ann Sindelar, is cautious to proclaim the finding of the rare family name a success in a link to the jewelry, but one family fit the profile.
"Relie, could be our subject, but we really don't know yet. More research would be needed," said Sindelar. "I don't think we've looked for jewelry before, but we have helped people do research on insignias on furniture, but we help people every day trace their family history. It's really one of the most compelling things we can do," added Sindelar.
The use of computers and data entered, then stored, in the last few years, including census records going back to the 1700s, helped the search for Relie Rothman go quickly.
"What we did in maybe an hour's time to track her down used to take weeks if not months, or would have been impossible ten years ago," said Sindelar.
While clues and proof of who owns the two formerly stolen items may still be forthcoming, Beachwood's detective department commander is still gathering evidence.
"If you find a picture of Lillie with Relie Rothman wearing the watch, let me know," joked Winebrenner.
Newschannel5 has had phone conversations with Relie Rothman's family. Check in to this website for further updates as they come in.
Twenty-three-year Beachwood police veteran Keith Winebrenner hasn't seen a case where someone shows up with stolen items, giving them back after 40 years.
But that's just what happened when an anonymous person, who apparently knew the robber, had been told decades ago about the theft in Beachwood.
Now deceased, the robber's death prompted a delivery to the Beachwood Police Department in July of two personal items that have names and initials on them.
The trouble is Beachwood's hard copy records from that decade had to be sorted through by hand. The result? No sign of either of those items were on any police report.
The detective bureau's commander, Winebrenner, hopes some family members will recognize the 120-year-old ladies pocket watch inscribed "To Lillie, In Memory of Relie 1892" and a Star of David necklace with small blue stones set in its sterling silver design.
"We're hoping to find whoever the rightful owner is, they can come and claim the property so we can return the property to them," said Winebrenner.
Checking the value of the items at DeWitt's Jewelry in downtown Cleveland, Evan DeWitt said that while the items are not worth much monetarily, they are hugely valuable sentimentally.
He said he is sure relatives of the family who lost them would love to have them back. De Witt is sure the uniqueness of the inscriptions and a custom-made religious design should trigger a sure family memory.
"I think you'll find the owner a lot quicker than one would think with the name Relie and those initials H.T.S., absolutely," said DeWitt.
A call to the Western Reserve Historical Society found them closed, but Ann Sindelar, on her day off, had gone into work late Wednesday to work on other projects. She found the search for the names fascinating using past census records.
"I have two good leads, one with very similar family names with the name Relie during those years, which could be a shortened version of Aurelia. The other with the correct religious family heritage, though possible Jewish heritage can be traced back in both searches," said Sindelar.
If you have any information on who's family these items might belong to, you may call Beachwood police at 216-292-1947, or NewsChannel5 at 216-431-3700.
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