A local woman's faith in God was strengthened Thursday, when a Phenix City man returned the wedding band and anniversary ring that she misplaced in downtown Columbus the evening before.
Phenix City resident Shenikki Thornton now sees Fred Copeland as her angel and the answer to her prayers. Thornton said she was very grateful that he turned her jewelry in to the Russell County Sheriff's Office shortly after he found them on the ground near The Loft located at 1032 Broadway.
"[Copeland] was my angel that day," said Thornton, a special education teacher at Spencer High School. "God does not physically come down and walk this earth, but He does walk this earth in the form of humans."
Thornton said she was in a rush to get to The Loft, where her daughter was scheduled to perform.
The Phenix City woman was in her vehicle Wednesday evening when she took off her wedding ring and anniversary band that her military husband of at least 10 years gave to her. Thornton said she placed them on her lap to rub lotion on her hands.
Because she was so wrapped up in her motherly duties, she forgot to grab the rings before she exited her vehicle. They fell out of her lap and onto the ground when she left her car to go inside of The Loft at about 6:15 p.m.
She didn't realize that she had misplaced her jewelry until after her daughter's performance. In a panic, Thornton immediately left The Loft and went to to the car to search for them. Thornton said she was devastated when couldn't find them.
Thornton told her husband, who was temporarily station in Hawaii at the time. He was understanding and reminded her that they had insurance to cover them. Though that did comfort her some, the fact she would probably never see those particular rings again hurt her dearly.
She remembered how special it was for her to receive the anniversary ring 10 years into her relationship with her husband.
"Apart of me still wanted those rings and I went into my secret place with God, where I said, 'God, let your will be done.'"
Little did she know, Copeland had come across her prize possessions after he finished eating dinner in downtown Columbus at about 6:45 p.m. With his family at the time, Copeland grabbed the rings and recorded the tag number on the vehicle near the area he found the rings.
Next, Copeland called Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor. The man told the sheriff that he found two rings and would like to return them back to the owner.
"I knew that it belonged to some lady, and it had sentimental value," Copeland said. "Whether it's worth $500 or $500,000, it's worth more than that to her."
The next morning, officials tracked down the owner of the vehicle parked near the rings Wednesday evening.
Taylor left a voicemail for Thornton's husband and he returned Taylor's phone call soon after.
The husband confirmed that his wife did in fact lose her wedding ring and anniversary band Wednesday night and mentioned that he was out of town. The husband went on to say that he would contact his spouse and have her contact the sheriff.
The sheriff learned later on that the military man was temporarily stationed in Hawaii.
Thornton and Copeland met in the Russell County Sheriff's Office, and Copeland gave Thornton her rings.
Taylor said the generous act kind of renewed his faith in mankind.
"Mr. Copeland and his family certainly went through great lengths to get the proper owners of the rings back with their property, and I just think that a lot of people in today's society wouldn't do that," Taylor said. "I was glad that we were able to help and find them."
Copeland said he believes there is a lot more good out in the world than there is bad. He hopes people will feel more inclined to do good deeds for others.
"I would just like for everybody to reach everybody that they could," Copeland said.