BLOOMINGTON— Miss Molly was lost but has found her way home.
The lead guitarist for the southern rock band Molly Hatchet is thrilled that a tip from another musician and quick work by the McLean County Sheriff’s Department resulted in the recovery of his custom guitar stolen during a Sept. 8 concert in rural McLean County.
”I thought Miss Molly was gone forever,” performer Bobby Ingram said Monday from his home in Florida.
The Les Paul Black Beauty custom Gibson guitar valued at more than $12,000 was taken from the stage after a performance at Chiggerfest, an annual music festival west of McLean.
Max Hayden, 22, of rural Bloomington, is charged with theft of property valued at more than $10,000. He was released Monday after posting $1,250 on the felony charge.
Hayden is accused of taking the guitar but did not have it in his possession, said police.
Ingram said a letter he recently received from a Twin City musician contained a tip that a member of a local band was seen with an expensive, unique guitar — an instrument that seemed out of place for the young musician.
Ingram passed the information along to McLean County sheriff’s Detective Tim Tyler. Within about 45 minutes of receiving tip details from Ingram, he tracked down the home of a person who allegedly had the guitar.
According to Tyler, the investigation into the theft is ongoing.
Finding the guitar means the return of an old friend, said Ingram.
“It’s beyond personal. When you do something all your life, it’s part of you. It’s been a dear instrument to me,” said Ingram, who received the guitar as a gift from his mother when he was 11.
After the guitar was reported missing, word circulated on social media and hundreds of people were trying to locate it, said Ingram.
The detective who listed to Molly Hatchet on eight-track tapes as a teenager has a new fan in the rock’n’roll industry since he took the guitar into protective custody.
“Tim is part of the Molly Hatchet family now. My hat is off to him,” said Ingram.
The case that presented some challenges when the theft was first reported has been rewarding to Tyler as well.
“The guitar could have ended up hanging on the wall in someone’s basement or in a garage. We were lucky the people who had it wanted to show it off,” said Tyler.