July 11 would have been Shaun Eileen Ritterson’s 65th birthday.
She only made it to age 20 when she was slain in 1977, her mutilated body found dumped on a wooded hillside in Buckingham Township. The case was never solved.
The occasion of that unmet birthday prompted Grace Ritterson Gordon to ask Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub if his detectives still had a distinctive gold ring her sister wore. It spelled out “LOVE,” with a diamond chip in the center of the letter “O.”
Weintraub’s detectives found the ring, kept as evidence in the cold case.
On Friday, Weintraub met privately with Gordon to return it.
“Returning Shaun’s ring to her family is the right thing to do,” Weintraub said in a statement his office released.
“To me, it signifies that no victim is ever forgotten. Our humanity is much more important [than] preserving a piece of evidence in an old, old case just for the sake of posterity.”
In pictures released by his office, Weintraub is seen giving the ring to Gordon, and then they hug.
“I was ecstatic,” she said in comments released by Weintraub’s office. “I told my mom, and she was very, very excited. She doesn’t wear jewelry but of course she wants to see it. I am going to get it cleaned up and I am going to wear it on a necklace to bring her closer to my heart.”
She added, “I can’t imagine the pain my mother and my father endured.”
Gordon, who has two other siblings, said she now has three children of her own.
She said she coped with the loss of her sister by focusing on the good memories they had growing up in Bristol Borough.
“I look past the horrific crime that it was because that didn’t define my sister. That is not who she was. That is how her life ended, but that is not who she was,” Gordon said.
She asked Weintraub if he would someday accompany her to the hillside where her sister’s body was found. He agreed.
The murder case went cold until it was reopened nearly a decade ago. But the prime suspect — who was reported at the time to be Ritterson’s uncle, Harry Ritterson — died of prostate cancer, and other investigative leads, including an inconclusive DNA test, were exhausted.
If anyone has information helpful about the case, they can contact the District Attorney’s Office at 215-348-6354.