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The Quick 7: Seven Kidnappings with Safe Returns

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It was this day in 1973 that John Paul Getty III was found alive in Naples, Italy, after his July 10 kidnapping. Although what he went through was certainly horrific, his kidnapping is proof that sometimes victims are returned home safely. Here are seven of those stories.

getty1. John Paul Getty III was kidnapped in Rome at the age of 16, but his family wasn't too keen to pay up the $17 million: John Paul III was a rebellious teenager and many of his family members suspected that he was behind the whole thing. After waiting a couple of months, the kidnappers got tired of the Gettys not taking them seriously and lopped off their captive's right ear and sent it to a newspaper in Rome. John Paul III's grandpa, the Getty who founded the family business, finally agreed to pay the ransom, but negotiated it down to about $2.8 million and made his son pay him back with interest. JPG III made it home but was never the same, and ended up becoming a drug addict. His son is actor Balthazar Getty of ABC's Brothers and Sisters. He was also on Alias.

2. Bizzy Bone of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was kidnapped when he was only four. He and his sisters were kidnapped and told that their mother and grandmother had died. After about a year, one of their new neighbors recognized Bizzy and his sisters on America's Most Wanted and reported their kidnapper to the police. The kids were immediately taken out of school, questioned, and returned to their mother.

3. Jemima Boone, Daniel Boone's daughter, was probably one of the earliest famous kidnapping victims. You probably know of the incident from its (fictionalized) depiction in The Last of the Mohicans - kidnapped along with Jemima were the daughters of Colonel Richard Callaway.

The three teenage girls were out canoeing on the Kentucky River when a party of Cherokee and Shawnee men abducted them. Daniel Boone organized a search-and-rescue party and the girls were recovered just a few days later. Despite the depiction in The Last of the Mohicans, Jemima Boone went on record later in life and said that their captors were very kind to them.

4. Sixteen-year-old Edward Cudahy, Jr., the son of a multimillionaire Packing Company owner in Omaha, was kidnapped as he ran an errand. His dad closed the plant the next morning and asked his workers to please help look for his son; his competitors closed and asked their employees to do the same. By 9 a.m., a ransom note demanding $25,000 was found. If the sum was not paid, the kidnappers explicitly said they would "put acid in [Edward Jr's] eyes and blind him." They left instructions as to how to pay them, which Edward Sr. followed to the letter. His son was returned five hours after he left the money at the specified drop-off point. Edward Sr. then hired the Pinkertons to find the kidnapper, Pat Crowe. He wasn't captured until November, 1905, but jurors acquitted him of all crimes after hearing "the best speech in a criminal case ever made in Omaha." Upon hearing this, the Washington Post declared Omaha "a happy hunting ground for savages and malefactors." Crowe ended up going on lecturing tours across America and making even more money off of his heinous crimes.

george5. In 1935, George Weyerhaeuser, the nine-year-old son of wealthy Washington lumberman J.P. Weyerhaeuser, was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded $200,000 in unmarked bills in denominations of $20 and under. Mr. Weyerhaeuser was given very specific instructions, and tried to follow them to the best of his ability. One of the locations he was instructed to go to, however, was missing the note that the ransomers had left behind. They contacted him and admonished him for not following directions. He was given a second chance, and this time he was able to do as the kidnappers had instructed. He dropped off the money as asked, and his son was released by the next morning. George later said his captors had put him in various holes they had dug into the ground, covered with boards and tar paper. Sometimes he was simply in the trunk of the kidnappers' car. Three men and a woman were eventually convicted of the kidnapping, and $157,319.47 of the ransom money was recovered. George Weyerhaeuser eventually became the Chairman of the Board for the Weyerhaeuser Company, which is still one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world.

6. In 1972, two Australian men managed to kidnap an entire classroom of students in the Faraday School kidnapping. Granted, the class only consisted of six students (plus the teacher). The kidnappers left a ransom note asking for $1,000,000. The same day it happened, the State Government announced that it would pay the ransom. When the men left to collect their ransom, the 20-year-old teacher, Mary Gibbs, kicked down the door of the van she and the children were being held in. They found help not far away. The men were captured and sentenced to jail terms, but in 1976, one of them, Edwin Eastwood, escaped from prison and attemped to perpetrate another kidnapping.

7. So, in 1977, Edwin Eastwood kidnapped a teacher and nine of her students from another school in Victoria. When he was making his getaway, he ran into a truck and ended up taking its two passengers hostage, too. With his car wrecked, he stole a camper from a group of elderly ladies and added them to his growing list of hostages. Not only did he ask for $7 million, he also asked for drugs, guns, and the release of 17 of his friends from Pentridge Prison. He didn't get any of it. When one of his hostages escaped, Eastwood decided to cut his losses and run for it. He was shot in the knee and sentence to a minimum of 18 years in prison, plus the nearly 11 years he had left to serve on his previous kidnapping charge.

I didn't include Elizabeth Smart on the list just because it's such a recent case - I was going for older kidnappings that the average person might not know about. Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments.

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Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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Mabel Livingstone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?


To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.


The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.


In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.


The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.


The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   


Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.


It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”


In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]


Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.


The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.


Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.


Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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Live Smarter
How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]


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