Truman A. Morrison III, a D.C. Superior Court judge and sometime car buff, perred out a window of his Northwest Washington home early Monday to check the weather and saw to his horror that his beloved 1966 Plymouth Sport Fury convertible was gone from the street in front of his house.
He called D.C. police and reported the vintage gas guzzler stolen.
"I was heartbroken," Morrison said yesterday.
What more, the culprit had ignored Morrison's other car, a 1979 BMW, and opted instead for the black-topped Plymouth with its creamy tan interior, BMW bucket seats (which Morrison had instaled himself), automatic transmission and power windows.
It was one of the last of the great convertibles -- the kind that puts todlay's puny compacts to shame -- but its value is purely sentimental. Morrison told police the Plymouth was worth about $50.
"Oh God, what a grat car that was," recalled Assistant U.S. Attorney William D. Pease, who had sold Morrison the Plymouth in 1973 for $150. At the time, there was grass growing on the floor of the back seat after rain had leaked through the roof and nurtured spilled seeds meant for a lawn.
Pease said he "adopted" the convertible from his parents who had bought it new. "The car was spectacular," he said. "It got 4 1;2 miles per gallon. . . .It [was] the last of a dying breed of huge, gas-guzzling convertibles.
The convertible became a familiary sight outside the city's public Defender Service office where Judge Morrison worked before he was named to the Superior Court bench.
The judge filed a stolen auto report with the police Monday but had little hope that the Plymouht would be recovered. "I was praying," he said.
He was answered at 6 a.m. Wednesday. A couple of deputy sheriffs in Louisa County, Va., 90 miles southwest of Washington, responded to a tip that a vehicle was parked in a "suspicious location" off a country road. There they found the Plymouth unharmed, with an occupant sleeping inside.
The occupant, listed in Louisa County Jail records as Wallace Curry, 25, of Southeast Washington, has been charged with possession of a stolen auto, burglary tools and marijuana, petit larceny and breaking and entering.
Morrison got the news of the recovered Plymouth yesterday. "I'm thrilled," he said. "It's one of lthe happiest moments of my life."