GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Rescue teams searching for the body of a man who jumped off the Veterans Memorial Bridge found a pillowcase filled with stolen goods.
The sack had dozens of pieces of jewelry, and two items indicated the original owners.
The things belong to Pat and Lynn Upton of Guntersville; victims of a burglary in 1996.
“They took all my TVs and anything electronic, and I never saw anything again,” Pat said.
The burglars took the pillowcase from the Uptons’ bed and filled it with rings, necklaces, bracelets, a Swedish hunting knife, and pins from Pat’s travels while in the Air Force and as the lead singer and guitarist of the band Spiral Starecase.
He grew up in Geraldine and joined the armed forces, and formed the band at the tail end of his military career, going on to write the hit song “More Today Than Yesterday” in 1969.
He and his wife moved from Los Angeles to Guntersville in the 1980s to raise children.
It was a quiet town, and safe, except for the burglars who took some family heirlooms.
“There were two bracelets that were my mother’s that meant a lot to her, and so they definitely meant a lot to me,” Lynn Upton said.
“I thought they were really cool and I loved wearing them.”
This week the Guntersville Rescue Squad found them, while they dragged the bottom of the lake beneath the Veterans Memorial Bridge in search of a missing man.
Tereza Ortiz felt her equipment catch on something, which she hoped was Deonta Griffin.
As she sifted through the contents, she found a laminated piece of paper with Pat Upton’s name on it, as well as a Polaroid photo of Upton.
“I got a call the other night from Frank at the rescue squad saying hey, we found a bag with a bunch of your stuff in it, and the reason they knew whose it was because it had a backstage pass from when I was with Rick Nelson,” Upton said.
Upton toured with the legendary singer-songwriter for three years, and Nelson’s final performance was in Guntersville at Upton’s club, PJ’s Alley.
Nelson died when his plane from Guntersville to Dallas crashed December 31, 1985
“He was a really good guy,” Upton said.
“He was what you saw on TV; he was just a mellow, good guy.”
The Polaroid picture is from a trip to pay tribute to Rick Nelson at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His induction was in 1987, so the Uptons think the photo is about 25 years old.
“[It] was just amazing that it would have lasted 16 years underwater,” Lynn said.
“I would think it would be ruined after a couple of days,” Pat said.
Most of the items are ruined, but they are glad to have them back and will try to salvage what they can, including Lynn’s mother’s bracelets and the Swedish hunting knife.