The Quick 7: Seven Kidnappings with Safe Returns
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.
1. 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.
5. 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.