ST. CLOUD, Fla. – A widow whose husband died after contracting COVID-19 believes someone stole his wedding ring off his hand sometime between his death in a hospital bed and his body’s arrival at a funeral home.
Larry Robinson, 77, was transported to Osceola Regional Medical Center by paramedics after he collapsed in the couple’s St. Cloud home.
“I knew he had his wedding ring on when he left here,” said his wife, Kay Robinson.
Larry Robinson died two weeks later.
When his body arrived at Osceola Memory Gardens to be cremated, Kay Robinson asked the funeral home staff to retrieve her husband’s wedding ring and a cross he wore around his neck.
Robinson had planned to hang the wedding ring on her necklace to keep it close to her heart.
“(An employee) called me back and said, ‘Well, I’ve got his cross. But he doesn’t have any wedding ring on,’” Robinson said.
After News 6 contacted Osceola Regional Medical Center with questions about the missing jewelry, Robinson said a hospital representative notified her that it would be compensating her the $2,400 she originally paid for the ring.
“There are compassionate people at the hospital,” Robinson said. “I can’t believe they are being so nice and generous.”
Ring vanishes while patient was in hospital, widow claims
Larry and Kay Robinson wed in a small ceremony in 2013, seven months after the elderly couple met each other in their St. Cloud community.
“He proposed on a Monday and we got married Thursday,” said Kay Robinson, 84. “He was my soul mate.”
While on a honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean, Robinson bought her husband a gold ring with diamonds.
“It was so different and beautiful,” Robinson said. “I never saw him with the ring off. Never once.”
Robinson is confident her husband was wearing the ring when he unexpectedly collapsed in their home New Year’s Day.
Although Robinson speculated he may have suffered a small stroke, staff members at Osceola Regional Medical Center informed her that her husband had contracted COVID-19.
Days later, Robinson herself tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to a different hospital, where she spent nearly a week recovering.
“I came home on Tuesday. He died Thursday,” Robinson said.
After Robinson learned from the funeral home that her husband’s ring was missing, she contacted the risk management department at Osceola Regional Medical Center.
“They told me that when the nurse closed the body bag with him in it, he had his wedding ring on and he had his cross around his neck,” Robinson said. “He saw the ring when they closed the bag.”
A hospital spokesperson did not confirm or deny Robinson’s account of that phone conversation with risk management officials.
Funeral home, hospital representatives respond as police investigate
Robinson believes someone stole the jewelry sometime between her husband’s body being removed from his hospital room and arriving at the funeral home.
“It absolutely kills me that some stupid SOB took that ring off his body and maybe sold it,” said Robinson, who has checked online auction websites in hopes of finding the ring for sale. “What kind of idiot would go into a bag if somebody just died of a highly communicable disease?”
Kissimmee Police have launched an investigation into the missing ring but have not yet disclosed whether officers believe a theft occurred.
Hospital and funeral home officials have also investigated the matter.
A spokesperson for Osceola Memory Gardens said its staff followed protocol when two employees transported Robinson’s husband from the hospital to the funeral home.
“Per COVID-19 safety guidelines, the body was already in a cadaver bag when the transport team arrived at the hospital, which is why they never saw the body,” said Vanessa Roman, the funeral home’s public relations director. “Once they confirm identification of the decedent with hospital staff, the body is placed in a second cadaver bag.”
A “hospital release form” provided no indication that Robinson’s husband had any personal effects on his body when he was released to the funeral home transport team, according to Roman.
“That is why the funeral director was surprised to find the cross necklace,” she said.
In a statement, an Osceola Regional Medical Center spokesperson indicated the hospital was assisting the widow.
“Our hearts go out to Mrs. Robinson and her family who are grieving the loss of a loved one,” said Vanessa Guevara, the hospital’s communications director. “We understand the importance of this ring and have been in communication with her as we looked into this internally. While we were not able to locate the ring, making this right for her was important to us and we have taken steps to help rectify this for Mrs. Robinson.”
After News 6 inquired about the missing jewelry, Robinson said a hospital vice president called her offering to replace the ring, a gesture the widow declined since the replacement would not hold the same sentimental value to her.
In response, Robinson says Osceola Regional Medical Center agreed to give her $2,400, the amount she says she originally paid for the jewelry.
“(The hospital vice president) was really very compassionate and understanding,” said Robinson. “She wanted to hear everything about Larry, our story and how we got together.”
Robinson said she is grateful for the hospital’s assistance but still hopes someone will find her husband’s wedding ring and turn it over to police.
“You made the pain of losing his ring kind of go away,” she said. “And that’s what I need right now. I need healing. And that helps to heal.”