Convict claims buried Ike treasure

January 27, 2009 9:58:10 AM PST
A buried treasure found on Galveston Island during Hurricane Ike cleanup turned up rare sports cards, jewels and cash. Now, for the first time we are hearing from the man who owns the treasure.

The man who owns the treasure was tracked down in Dayton. He's behind bars at the Hightower Unit. When you hear the story that a convict is the owner, your mind might wander. Could it be a secret stash of stolen booty buried in a state park to be dug up when he is released?

"I didn't bury anything, the hurricane took it," said inmate John Sidwill.

The stuff is Sidwill's. He didn't bury it and it is not stolen loot. It's just stuff Sidwill wanted to stash with a friend for safekeeping while he served two years for an intoxicated assault.

"I figured the safest place for the two boxes was with him," he told us.

Sidwill gave two ammo cans along with his truck and tools and clothes to a friend who lived in Jamaica Beach. When Ike hit, the friend's garage blew out and so did Sidwell's stuff.

And he figured the box with family heirlooms was gone too until last week when fellow inmates were watching a news story about a man who found buried treasure.

"I was sitting on my bunk reading a book and a bunch of guys said you're on TV," Sidwell said. "They said, 'no, they found your box, you're rich.'"

Happy yes. Rich, not so much. The stuff is all family heirlooms. The rings are important to him, but not all that valuable. His dog tags are here as is his Art Donovan football card.

"It's just an old card," he said.

There's some confederate money in there too.

"My late great-uncle found it in Florida in the 1930's," he said.

It's worth $150 on a good day. Mostly the stuff is his only remaining connection to his life outside prison. When he gets out in April, he plans to give it to his daughter after thanking the man who unearthed it.

"I am still quivering over the thought of him finding it," Sidwell said. "I'm just excited about it that he found it."

The state of Texas said it will make no claim for the stuff and Sidwell hopes the victims in the drunk driving accident won't make any claim for it either. That will clear it for him to get it all back when he is released.

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