Man Finds 10-Year-Old Boy's Missing Locket Containing Mom's Ashes: 'Failure Was Not an Option'

Lou Asci went to the soccer field where Connor Datri lost the locket three times before finding it with his metal detector

<p>Images provided by Lou Asci</p> Lou Asci (C) with Melissa Moriarty (L) and Connor Datri (R)

Images provided by Lou Asci

Lou Asci (C) with Melissa Moriarty (L) and Connor Datri (R)

A lost locket containing the ashes of a Massachusetts boy’s mother was found on Thursday thanks to a man with a metal detector.

Connor Datri, 10, of Plymouth, has worn the necklace daily to feel close to his mother, Lynelle Leonard, who died in a car crash three years ago, FOX affiliate WFXT previously reported. The necklace carried a heart-shaped locket that featured an engraving of Leonard’s fingerprint and initials.

Melissa Moriarty, Connor’s grandmother, said that Connor was at West Elementary School’s soccer field where he lost the locket, per CBS affiliate WBZ.

Moriarty shared a post in a community Facebook group on Oct. 20 about the necklace accompanied by images of it. “If anyone is going to the field could you please be on the lookout," she wrote.

<p>Images provided by Lou Asci</p> The pendant that was found by Lou Asci

Images provided by Lou Asci

The pendant that was found by Lou Asci

This is where Lou Asci, 61, of Marshfield, comes in. An employee for Massport, Asci looks for missing items with his metal detector in his spare time and doesn’t charge for his services.

He tells PEOPLE that a friend of his heard the news, so on Tuesday morning, he went to West Elementary School’s soccer area and started searching. “I did as much of the two smaller practice fields as I could,” he recalls.

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Asci’s initial hunt was interrupted by the school’s principal, who told the searchers they weren’t allowed on the premises during school hours but could return when classes weren't in session. So he came back the following evening and continued looking.

“It was dark, and so I went back over there and tried to do some more of those two fields with a headlamp," he says. "I found a lot of other things: I found a lot of coins, I found another pendant, I found a ring...but I didn't find what I was looking for.”

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Asci returned to the field Thursday evening, accompanied by his wife. That day, he talked to the 10-year-old and his grandmother — and afterwards, he says he had a "feeling" about where the missing pendent was.

“It was [in] a completely different field than where we had been looking before," he says. And sure enough, "right in the center circle of that soccer field, right in the center, there it was."

<p>Images provided by Lou Asci</p> Lou Asci

Images provided by Lou Asci

Lou Asci

Not wanting to dig up everything and ruin the field, Asci was able to precisely find where the locket was after he made the initial hit with his big metal detector.

"Put came a silver heart-shaped item," he says. "And so once I looked at it, I confirmed that this is it, and I turned to my wife and said, 'Okay, it's over.'"

He took pictures of the discovery and sent it over to Moriarty, who, along with Connor, immediately rushed down to meet Asci in the parking lot where he handed the locket over to them.

“It was kind of emotional,” Asci says of their reaction. “They were very happy, to be honest with you. It was a little bit emotional for me too, and I was thrilled."

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Moriarty said, per WFXT,  ​​“Connor just wants to thank everyone for looking, and he’s very happy that he has his mom back."

Asci further tells PEOPLE that he has found such things as ​​an iPhone, a set of pliers, six pairs of sunglasses in his line of work — and now he could add a boy's special necklace as part of his finds.

“This was something that, in my opinion, was a must-do,” Asci says about finding the locket. “Failure was not an option. Either myself or somebody else had to find this and return it no matter what it took. It's not like something that could be replaced.”

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