Madison County

Woman accused of swallowing ring in Richmond jewelry heist

The culprit in a jewelry heist swallowed the evidence, Richmond police said Thursday.

A Richmond woman faces a charge of receiving stolen property under $10,000 after an X-ray showed she swallowed a $3,300 diamond engagement ring, police said in a release.

On Tuesday, employees of The Castle, a jewelry store in Richmond, reported that a man and woman were looking at the ring and apparently switched it for another, police said.

When confronted by employees, the couple abruptly left the store.

A subsequent investigation led to Melissa A. Jones, 30, police said.

On Wednesday, police learned that Jones had been arrested Tuesday on a Madison County warrant for failure to pay fines and on a Fayette County warrant for theft by unlawful taking.

Police later found out that Jones had apparently swallowed the ring. She was taken from the Madison County jail to Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center in Richmond, where an X-ray confirmed the presence of the ring in her body.

"The ring has not yet been recovered," the release said.

"I guess it's a waiting game," said Nicole Lauhon, general manager of The Castle in Richmond.

She said the 1¼-carat ring had a three-fourths carat center stone.

Lauhon said she had heard of people accidentally swallowing rings, but this was the first time she has encountered the possibility of someone ingesting jewelry as part of a theft.

"In a lot of high-end jewelry stores, they will do the 'switch,' Lauhon said. "This is the first time it has happened to me."