Four years ago, Hamed Mirabdal endured a violent attack that left him permanently injured.
In July, a piece of evidence from the attack was mailed back to his mother, and now police are hoping to find the sender and authenticate the item so it can be introduced at trial.
On July 13, Mirabdal's mother received a manila envelope at her Orinda home with no return address. Inside was a worn black wallet with her son's old driver's license and a handwritten note.
"Hamed," the scribbled note read, "found this while gardening on San Lorenzo Ave. in North Berkeley."
The note is signed with an illegible signature.
As two men charged with Mirabdal's stabbing and robbery prepare for a court date Wednesday, the Berkeley Police Department is asking for the public's help identifying who sent the wallet.
Legitimizing the source of the wallet -- thus proving that it really is Mirabdal's wallet from the night of the attack and that it has not been tampered with -- would allow prosecutors to admit it as evidence in the case, Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said.
If a chain of custody cannot be confirmed by establishing who found and mailed the wallet, no evidence can be lifted from it or used in court against 22-year-old Blake Anthony Mastro and 26-year-old Nicolas Flatbush, who are charged with attempted murder and second-degree burglary for the October 2006 attack.
Mirabdal, who was 19 at the time, survived more than 25 stab wounds to his neck and chest, but the former Moraga high school football player's life was changed forever.
His wounds caused him to suffer a stroke during recovery, which put him temporarily in a coma.
Impaired nerves that were sliced by the assailant's blade have cost Mirabdal the complete use of his left hand and partial use of his right, and he is in perpetual agonizing pain from the nerve damage, according to his father, Ali Mirabdal.
Though now 23, Hamed Mirabdal can no longer dress or feed himself. He is attending classes at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, but one of the injuries he sustained in the attack will require him to eventually have open-heart surgery, his father has said.
Berkeley police have passed out fliers and knocked on doors asking if anyone can help them find the person who returned his wallet, Kusmiss said.
She said police believe the person who mailed the wallet is simply a Good Samaritan and not linked to the attack.
The note was written on a piece of Keller Williams Real Estate stationary, and an address at the bottom is from an office in Pennsylvania.
San Lorenzo Avenue is too long to pinpoint the mailer, Kusmiss said, and police believe even the smallest tips from the public could prove vital.
"Sometimes the most insignificant detail may be the key to finding this particular person," Kusmiss said. "Because this is a mystery, if community members have any thoughts about gardening or know someone who just moved from Pennsylvania, we are open to speculation and hunches."
Anyone with information about the wallet or note is encouraged to email Detective Sgt. Emily Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Berkeley police homicide unit at (510) 981-5741.