Police record found mentioning Jerry Garcia’s briefcase with lost songs 

click to enlarge The San Francisco Police Department turned over a record from the department's evidence tracking system on Monday, revealing that the briefcase said to contain lost songs written by Jerry Garcia was released from SFPD's custody about 11 months after it was confiscated from Garcia. - KRISTY MCDONALD/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Kristy McDonald/AP File Photo
  • The San Francisco Police Department turned over a record from the department's evidence tracking system on Monday, revealing that the briefcase said to contain lost songs written by Jerry Garcia was released from SFPD's custody about 11 months after it was confiscated from Garcia.
New evidence has surfaced in the search for lost songs said to be inside the briefcase of late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia — although the location of those songs remains a mystery.

The San Francisco Police Department on Monday turned over a record from the department’s evidence tracking system, upon request from The Examiner.

The record indicates the Jerry Garcia briefcase said to contain the lost songs was released from SFPD’s custody Nov. 20, 1985 — about 11 months after the department confiscated it.

Consequently, the mystery surrounding the briefcase belonging to the legendary Grateful Dead guitarist seems to lead back to Garcia and his attorney. Police say the evidence record validates that theory.

The release of the evidence record is the latest development in a search that began last week for the item, booked into evidence 30 years ago.

On the document, there’s an entry with the incident number from when Garcia was arrested Jan. 18, 1985 in Golden Gate Park for possession of drugs.

The record shows an officer identified by number 1913, who police said was officer Tom Srock, released the item, described in the system as an attaché case containing miscellaneous papers.

The entry includes a transaction code, which police said means the evidence was turned over to a responsible partly, likely Garcia or his attorney at the time.

While the record seems to put to rest one part of the mystery, it also seems to keep alive another. The band’s lyricist Robert Hunter said in a recent Rolling Stone interview there were lost songs he and Garcia were working on inside the briefcase and requested if the police still had the songs, to return them. Were those song lyrics and Garcia notes used later on without Hunter realizing it — or somehow lost after it left the evidence room?

The prospect of discovering lost Grateful Dead songs had sparked many fans’ imaginations. “Our property control section had to search for it because of the interest,” Officer Albie Esparza said.

Esparza said the record shows that “we gave it back to the rightful owners in 1985.” However, police have been unable to provide additional records confirming the identity of who received the property — other than the code on the record meaning it ended up with a responsible party, like Garcia or his attorney.

The interest is not surprising. Even though it has been 20 years since Garcia died of a heart attack on Aug. 9, 1995, a legion of Deadheads keep Garcia’s memory and songs alive.

Examples are abundant. When there was a suggestion in 2013 The City might change the name of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park, named in his honor in 2005, thousands of fans rose up to defeat the proposal. When the remaining four members announced they would celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary with three July shows in Chicago’s Soldier Field, they quickly sold out.

Later this year, The City plans to install commemorative plaques nearby Garcia’s two childhood homes in the Excelsior neighborhood.

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