Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 03-19-2015, 08:54 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,581
Has there ever been a successful ransom kidnapping?

I realize this may devolve into an IMHO thread, and if it reaches that point, I leave it to a mod to move it, but I'm putting it here first, because I think my actual question is straightforward:

Has anyone ever paid a ransom in exchange for a kidnapped hostage in the US, and had the person returned unharmed, as promised? I realize there's the possibility there may be unpublicized cases, if people followed orders not to call authorities, but you'd think most people would call authorities at least after the fact, or someone would talk eventually, so the story would eventually come out.

There's a thread where there's a question regarding whether one would pay the ransom or call the authorities. I said I would call the authorities, because there isn't much correlation, historically, between paying the ransom and getting the hostage back. Since the thread was posted, I've found examples (by Googling, mostly, so, no real, serious research, I admit) of successful ransoms like the Dan Cooper hijack, but no "classic" stranger abductions for money that came off as expected. Even when the (usually) family members don't call the authorities and try to pay the ransom, they don't get a live hostage back. They get nothing, ever, or eventually a body is found. There have been a couple of cases where a hostage escaped, and in the Patty Hearst case, the family tried to ransom her more than once, but the SLA kept changing demands.

Does anyone know of a successful example of a kidnapping of the Lindbergh type, that came off the way it was supposed to (notwithstanding the kidnappers possibly captured at a later date)?
#2
Old 03-19-2015, 09:04 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 13,703
John Paul Getty III was injured by his kidnappers, but he was returned alive after a ransom was paid.
#3
Old 03-19-2015, 09:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 23,879
Many of the people taken hostage by Somali pirates were ransomed.
#4
Old 03-19-2015, 09:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: South Bay
Posts: 83,811
Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo View Post
Many of the people taken hostage by Somali pirates were ransomed.
Somalia is "in the US"?
#5
Old 03-19-2015, 09:51 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 23,879
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Somalia is "in the US"?
Doh, I missed that part of the OP.
#6
Old 03-19-2015, 09:54 AM
The Central Scrutinizer
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pork Roll/Taylor Ham
Posts: 24,068
Look up Frank Sinatra Jr.
#7
Old 03-19-2015, 10:22 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Grand-duché de Berg
Posts: 1,932
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Look up Frank Sinatra Jr.
#8
Old 03-19-2015, 10:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 27,512
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
The Kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr.
#9
Old 03-19-2015, 10:29 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: NYC
Posts: 5,954
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Sinatra,_Jr.

Quote:
Sinatra was kidnapped, at the age of 19, on December 8, 1963 at Harrah's Lake Tahoe (room 417).[4] Sinatra was released two days later after his father paid the $240,000 ransom demanded by the kidnappers.
#10
Old 03-19-2015, 10:41 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Grand-duché de Berg
Posts: 1,932
Indeed. The OP's definition of “successful kidnapping” took me off guard.
#11
Old 03-19-2015, 10:45 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,581
So, we have an American who was kidnapped in Italy, and an American whose ransom was paid under the watch of the authorities as a means of capturing, successfully, the kidnappers. One assumes the Sinatras got their money back.

Thanks for the responses. I have no doubt that in other countries paying the ransom is probably the way to go if you want your hostage back relatively unharmed, but in the US, I still don't think it's the way to go. At this point, even if someone does come up with a case where paying the ransom brought the person home unharmed, it still doesn't look like it balances out statistically.

I was wondering, because I read a couple books on this, including a really comprehensive one, called Ransom Kidnapping in America, but I just looked up that book (which I read back in the 90s), and realized it was already pretty dated when I read it, and things could have changed, but I doubted they'd changed in favor of paying ransoms, and that does seem to be true.

Unless lots of kidnappings are happening on smaller levels, and somehow not making the press, and ransoms are being carried out successfully and silently, which I doubt.
#12
Old 03-19-2015, 10:50 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
Indeed. The OP's definition of “successful kidnapping” took me off guard.
Yes, successful from the perspective of the criminals. It bears on whether paying the ransom appears to be a good gambit, at least for most of the people on the board, who are in countries with pretty good police forces, and FBI-type organizations. It appears that it is not, and calling the authorities, despite threats, is a better plan.
#13
Old 03-19-2015, 10:54 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Staring blankly at my GPS
Posts: 11,874
Quote:
Does anyone know of a successful example of a kidnapping of the Lindbergh type, that came off the way it was supposed to (notwithstanding the kidnappers possibly captured at a later date)?
Elizabeth Rosenkrantz was kidnapped in 1984. One million dollars paid. She was released. And as an added bonus, bad buys caught later on!
#14
Old 03-19-2015, 10:55 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 23,466
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Look up Frank Sinatra Jr.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
Strictly speaking, Sinatra was freed when one of the kidnappers panicked and let him go, before the other kidnappers got back with the ransom, so I'm not sure that counts.

The John Paul Getty III kidnapping was just sad all the way around. The kidnappers demanded $17 million, which the family wouldn't pay. After three months the kidnappers cut off Getty's ear. They eventually dropped the ransom to $3 million. Getty's grandfather eventually paid $2.2 million -- supposedly because that was all the accountants said he could write off on his taxes -- and lent Getty's father enough to pay the rest, while charging him interest.

Whether it was "successful" is strictly a judgement call.

Wikipedia's list of kidnappings suggests that U.S. kidnappings for ransom rarely end well.
#15
Old 03-19-2015, 11:17 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Grand-duché de Berg
Posts: 1,932
OP was only looking for US cases, but there is the extraordinary kidnapping of Jan Philipp Reemtsma, heir to the Reemtsma tobacco company.

Reemtsma was kidnapped in 1996 and held by his kidnappers for a month. A ransom of 15 million German marks and 12.5 million Swiss francs was paid. The kidnappers were caught (years after the crime) and served lengthy prison sentences, but they have been released since. Most of the ransom was never recovered and it is assumed that the kidnappers (at least the mastermind, Thomas Drach, whose current whereabouts are unknown) have access the money.

Last edited by Donnerwetter; 03-19-2015 at 11:18 AM.
#16
Old 03-19-2015, 11:26 AM
Arms of Steel, Leg of Jello
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Riding my handcycle
Posts: 34,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
.

The John Paul Getty III kidnapping was just sad all the way around. The kidnappers demanded $17 million, which the family wouldn't pay. After three months the kidnappers cut off Getty's ear. They eventually dropped the ransom to $3 million. Getty's grandfather eventually paid $2.2 million -- supposedly because that was all the accountants said he could write off on his taxes -- and lent Getty's father enough to pay the rest, while charging him interest.
"Are you telling me I've been marked down?"

[wails]"I've been kidnapped by Kmart."
#17
Old 03-19-2015, 11:36 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 13,845
IIRC from news at the time, Getty disappeared while in Italy and part of the reason for refusal was that the Getty with all the money (and authorities in general) were at first pretty skeptical that it was not just a hoax for young Getty to get his hands on some money (it seems the elder granpa Getty was pretty much a skinflint.) When the ear arrived there was some debate whether this was his, and the family started to entertain the possibility the kidnapping was real.

The trouble with kidnapping in the USA was that Lindbergh spoiled it for everyone. The crime was so notorious kidnapping was made a federal crime (no need to prove inter-state activity, IIRC). That meant now the full weight and resources of the feds also came to bear much more quickly, making it a much riskier crime and far more difficult to get away with.
#18
Old 03-19-2015, 12:01 PM
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 56,408
Quote:
Originally Posted by running coach View Post
"Are you telling me I've been marked down?"

[wails]"I've been kidnapped by Kmart."
I hate the way she lick stamps!
#19
Old 03-19-2015, 12:04 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: N of Denver & S of Sanity
Posts: 12,586
Weird question for me. I would define a successful kidnapping as
1) Ransom paid
2) Victim released unharmed
3) Kidnapper(s) escape and are still unknown

Has all 3 ever happened?
#20
Old 03-19-2015, 12:33 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Sacratomato area
Posts: 2,906
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
When the ear arrived there was some debate whether this was his, and the family started to entertain the possibility the kidnapping was real.
Amateurs. I can get you an ear by 3 o'clock this afternoon.
#21
Old 03-19-2015, 12:55 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8,596
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
IIRC from news at the time, Getty disappeared while in Italy and part of the reason for refusal was that the Getty with all the money (and authorities in general) were at first pretty skeptical that it was not just a hoax for young Getty to get his hands on some money (it seems the elder granpa Getty was pretty much a skinflint.) When the ear arrived there was some debate whether this was his, and the family started to entertain the possibility the kidnapping was real.
Couple of years ago I'd see these schemes all the time in local media.

http://trinidadexpress.com/news/...165217666.html

Quote:
A 32-year-old Trincity man was yesterday fined $800 for staging his bogus kidnapping aimed at scheming his father out of $500,000.
His lawyer claimed that his client, Ricardo Daniel, "was possibly taken over by a shaitan (evil spirit)" as he pleaded for leniency.
Ah yes the classic evil spirit defense!
#22
Old 03-19-2015, 12:58 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,001
I'd suggest most successful kidnappings never actually make the news, as the whole affair never involves the authorities.
#23
Old 03-19-2015, 03:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
Amateurs. I can get you an ear by 3 o'clock this afternoon.
But is it an ear with rich parents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin1977 View Post
I'd suggest most successful kidnappings never actually make the news, as the whole affair never involves the authorities.
That was sort of my question. Do those happen? I sort of suspect not, just because I would think that people would involve the authorities after the fact; you know, get the kid back, and then call the police and try to bring the kidnappers to justice, even if you don't get the money back.

I understand those kind of kidnappings happen in other countries, where the authorities, well, aren't, but in the US, not so much.

Also, even if it was true at one time, considering how quickly the alarm goes up for a missing person, particularly a child, I wonder if parents wouldn't contact authorities before the kidnappers had a chance to contact the parents.
#24
Old 03-20-2015, 04:18 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Delft
Posts: 940
The kidnapping of Freddy Heineken comes to mind. Not, as per OP, in the US but nevertheless a datapoint.wiki link
#25
Old 03-20-2015, 07:30 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 13,845
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin1977 View Post
I'd suggest most successful kidnappings never actually make the news, as the whole affair never involves the authorities.
In North America, unlikely. People withdrawing huge amounts of untraceable cash probably trigger some sort of alarm. Most kidnappers won't take a cheque. And most people with the connections to raise large amounts of cash quietly - you probably don't want to mess with.

Where was it, Italy or South America somewhere, where when the authorities heard about a kidnapping they would freeze the family's money to prevent them paying the kidnappers?
#26
Old 03-21-2015, 01:42 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: My own private Nogero
Posts: 5,997
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
Weird question for me. I would define a successful kidnapping as
1) Ransom paid
2) Victim released unharmed
3) Kidnapper(s) escape and are still unknown

Has all 3 ever happened?
Well, there was this infamous case, but someone will probably say it doesn't count.
#27
Old 03-21-2015, 02:11 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Well, there was this infamous case, but someone will probably say it doesn't count.
I love that story. When my son is misbehaving, I call him Red Chief-- his real name actually is Johnny. I was very sad when I had to explain it to my husband.
#28
Old 03-21-2015, 10:28 AM
Isaiah 1:15 Screw the NRA.
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 49,608
Steve Wynn's daughter Kevyn was kidnapped in 1993. Steve paid $1.45 million and got her back safely. The kidnappers were caught when one of them tried to buy a Ferrari in Newport Beach for cash.
#29
Old 03-22-2015, 05:52 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Seoul, S. Korea
Posts: 9,254
Not a factual source, but in the Ron Howard/Mel Gibson movie Ransom, that FBI guy told Mel that the families that paid generally got their kids back. Interesting that no reviewer at the time called them on that.
#30
Old 03-22-2015, 06:27 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 11,958
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
Weird question for me. I would define a successful kidnapping as
1) Ransom paid
2) Victim released unharmed
3) Kidnapper(s) escape and are still unknown

Has all 3 ever happened?
Virginia Piper, some details here. Two suspects arrested, acquitted due to evidence tampering. Officially they are innocent, and the crime is unsolved.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:00 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: mead vs beer pk nails survey mekka lekka legal giant height yoshi definition buy arsenic powder earbuds uncomfortable dust everywhere buying cyanide pills incest pron nickelodeon's definition 3 way wars thermos cleaner how to put a cat to sleep without a vet touch of grey review old spider bite flaring up cell phone ring amplifier can americans own land in mexico bulletproof vest dragon skin rakim dead can dance big fig newton commercial does home depot cut wood for customers what does error pining mean where to buy borax acid powder how do clowns fit in clown car how old are you when your balls drop