Knowledge — 2 years ago

Most Famous Kidnapping Stories Throughout the Years!

by Rachel M.

Famous Kidnapping Stories

Most Famous Kidnapping Stories That Shocked the World!

Kidnapping is the crime of abducting someone else against their will. The motivations for such a crime can be financial, in which a ransom will be requested, parental, usually when a couple splits up and one custody is granted to one side, or sexual.  Kidnapping for financial means usually is committed by criminal gangs or terrorist organizations in exchange for money or political demands. Victims of kidnapping are usually the family members of rich individuals who would be likely to give large sums of money in a short amount of time. 

Here are some of the most famous and notorious kidnapping stories from throughout the years. 

Most Famous Kidnapping Stories

Charles Lindbergh, Jr. 

In 1932, the son of famous American Aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his crib on the second floor of their New Jersey home. The child, named Charles Lindbergh Jr. was just 20 months old at the time. At the scene of the crime Charles Lindbergh Sr. found a poorly written ransom note asking for 50,000 dollars, a hefty sum back then. 

Due to the fame of Charles Lindbergh Sr. The case received international coverage in the media. President Hoover was notified, several high profile individuals offered their help in dealing with the kidnappers including the infamous Al Capone, who was in jail at the time. John F. Condon a retired schoolteacher and popular figure in New York was chosen by the Lindberghs to be the intermediary. 

Charles Lindbergh, Jr kidnapping

The ransom was indeed paid in full, with the police keeping track of the serial numbers on each bill. Before the kidnappers gave the location of the boy, a truck driver who stopped to relieve himself on the side of the road came across the dead body of a child, who was later identified as Charles Lindbergh Jr. 

In 1934 the police we able to successfully track the serial numbers on the bills handed over in the ransom and arrested Richard Hauptmann a German immigrant living in the Bronx with a previous criminal record. Hauptmann was tried, found guilty and subsequently executed. 

Frank Sinatra Jr. 

Frank Sinatra Sr. was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century, his son Frank Sinatra Jr. was also a music artist, but never achieved the level of fame his father did, except perhaps when he was kidnapped. Just a few days after the assassination of his father’s friend President John F. Kennedy, Frank Jr. aged 19 at the time was kidnapped from his dressing room at a Lake Tahoe club where he was due to perform. The two kidnappers, Barry Keenan and Joe Amsler tied Frank’s friend up, blindfolded both of them and put Frank into a vehicle waiting outside the club. 

Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping

Frank’s friend quickly freed himself and called the police, it was later discovered that the police stopped the kidnappers trying to leave the city, but they were able to talk their way through the checkpoint. The kidnappers along with another conspirator named John Irwin demanded 240,000 dollars in ransom to be placed between two school buses in Sepulveda, California. While Keenan and Amsler went to pick up the money, Irwin had gotten nervous and freed Frank Jr. 

Irwin once again got nervous due to the extensive FBI investigation and confessed to his brother who then called the FBI leading to the arrest of all three of the conspirators. Keenan, Amsler, and Irwin were all convicted., Amsler and Keenan were sentenced to life in prison and Irwin to 16 years. Keenan ended up spending 4½ years in prison; Amsler and Irwin were released after 3½ years. There is some speculation about whether Frank Jr. or Frank Sr. fabricated the kidnapping to boost Frank Jr’s career, but there has been no evidence to prove that. 

Patty Hearst

Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, creator of the largest newspaper, magazine, newsreel, and movie business in the world. When Patty was 19, she was engaged to her fiancé and was studying at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1974 Patty was beaten to the point where she lost consciousness and was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley. The United Federated Forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a left-wing terrorist group based out of California claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. 

Patty Hearst kidnapping

The SLA did not demand a ransom, but wanted the Hearst family, with its significant political power to use its influence to free two members of their organization from prison failing this, they asked for Hearst to donate 70 million dollars worth of food to the poor of California. Hearst's father took out a loan and arranged the immediate donation of $2 million worth of food to be distributed to the poor, but after the operation went chaotic, the SLA refused to release Patty. 

 During her imprisonment, Patty claimed she was locked in a closet with SLA reading material and was only let out for meals. She also claimed she was threatened with death several times by the SLA leader Donald DeFreeze. The choice was given to her to either join the SLA or die. Upon answering that she would join the SLA she was allowed to remove her blindfold, join political discussions and was assigned chores. Patty was trained in weapons drills, as well as sexual freedom, which in the case of the SLA involved her being raped by members of the organization.

Two months following the kidnapping Patty Hearst announced on an audiotape that she had joined the SLA and taken the name Tania. About 2 weeks later she was caught on camera robbing a bank. For almost two years Patty Hearst stayed with The SLA and was arrested in 1975. Despite evidence of brainwashing, Hearst was convicted of bank robbery and using a firearm during the commission of a felony and was given the maximum sentence possible of 35 years' imprisonment. Hearst had her sentence commuted 22 months into her sentence by President Carter, and was later fully pardoned by President Bill Clinton. Patty Hearst is now an author, actress, and mother to two children. 


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