A Florida man is wanted for allegedly stealing a trailer full of Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia that was meant for a charity auction. William James Walker allegedly stole the trailer from a Days Inn parking lot on April 9, according to Orange Park, Florida police. The memorabilia was intended for the Jimmie Van Zant Cancer Benefit in Middleburg to honor the late musician, who died in 2016 after a battle with liver cancer.
Walker is believed to be homeless and frequents hotels throughout the Jacksonville area, police said. He has a "praying hands" image tattooed on his forearm and a spider on his shoulders. Police are asking anyone with information to call Orange Park Police at 904-264-5555 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).
Days after the theft, the Jimmie Van Zant Cancer Charity shared a full list of everything that was in the trailer Walker allegedly stole. The memorabilia is worth over $12,000 combined. Some of the items inside included a 1957 Les Paul guitar signed by Gregg Allman, Brian Howe, Butch Trucks, Lita Ford, and many others; two guitars signed by other musicians; a Roadmaster Bass cabinet with Beaver Bass head used by Leon Wilkinson; and many other used instruments.
"We had large hopes of making great money at the event, however without much to sell, well, we actually lost money on the event, due to this loss," organizers wrote. "We had high hopes because of [COVID] we were not able to do anything to raise money last year at all. And me having it myself we didn't even do roadblocks last year, so we had big hopes on that show. But hey, it was a success because people stepped to the plate in the area and donated their own personal stuff to help us. May God Bless You All!!" They also launched a GoFundMe account to raise the funds they hoped to raise through the auction.
Organizers also told News4Jax that many of the items in the trailer are irreplaceable. “We have guitars that are signed by a lot of the band members,” organizer Joey Willut told the local outlet. “A lot of them aren’t even alive anymore. It’s stuff that can’t be replaced.”
Lynyrd Skynyrd was founded in Jacksonville and reached the height of its popularity in the early 1970s. In 1977, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines were killed in a plane crash. The group reformed in 1987 with Johnny Van Zant as the lead singer. Jimmie Van Zant was a cousin of Skynyrd members Ronnie, Johnny and Donnie Van Zant. He died at 59.