The priceless first page of Massachusetts' 1629 colonial charter, stolen seven months ago in a daring daylight heist, was unexpectedly recovered when police looking for drugs raided a garbage-strewn apartment, authorities said Saturday.
The discovery delighted state officials, who said they had not expected to see the document again.
The parchment, found rolled up in a cardboard box Thursday night, was identified by state Archivist Albert H. Whitaker Jr. on Friday.
Police believe that two persons pried open a small lock on a Statehouse Archives display case Aug. 8 and lifted the heavy brass and glass cover that had protected the charter since 1961.
In addition to taking the page, the thieves also stole the official wax seal of King Charles I, who had granted the charter. Police did not recover the seal, Norfolk County Dist. Atty. William D. Delahunt said at a news conference.
The page from the charter, a piece of sheepskin about 2 1/2 feet wide and two feet long, was part of a document that established a trading zone for the Massachusetts Bay Company in what is now Massachusetts.