Kidnapping In Santa Monica
What Is A Kidnapping?
It is an event as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as follows:”to seize and detain or carry away by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom“. The example given is: “the child of the wealthy industrialist was kidnapped and held for ransom“. That event happened to me such that I became mixed up in ways I could never have imagined..
Some 50 Years Ago
I was living in an apartment building in Santa Monica, California by myself. It was located on a street called Montana Blvd. Located just blocks from the Pacific Palisades Bluffs Park, it was an easy trek to the beach.
The building was 3 stories tall and held about 30 apartments. To accommodate the cars owned by the renters, there was a large subterranean garage below the street level. Needless to say, it was easy to hide in your car and not be seen.
My Porsche was recently lost due to a catastrophic accident in the foothills separating the beach cities of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Looking for a temporary replacement, I was made aware of a small European car that was for sale by one of the renters in my building. The name is unclear, but it was sort of boxy looking like a Morris Mini Minor or Fiat.
The car was not in operable condition. It had been sitting in the garage off in a dark corner for some time. The doors were not locked and it was not a vehicle that gained any real attention. That is, until one very fateful day.
I had let the owner know that I was interested in buying her car. This decision caused me to become a suspect in a very sensational crime case that I will never forget.
Loud Knock On My Door
Early one morning I was still sleeping when I heard a loud knocking at my door. I was not dressed when I opened it to discover 2 men in black overcoats standing there. They identified themselves as members of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). After asking me my name, they wanted to ask me a bunch of questions about my involvement with that particular car in the garage.
I asked them what this was all about. They told me that a young boy who had been kidnapped, was found tied up, but still alive, in that the car in the building. He was the son of a wealthy banker and the kidnapper was demanding a large ransom.
They wanted to know my connection to the whole ordeal. Was it possible that I might know the perpetrator of the crime? Why was I interested in the vehicle? What was my background? The scenario went on and on, as other questions were asked that I had to answer for. Being still half asleep, I am not sure my answers were all that satisfactory.
After the interrogation, I was told to stay available for further questioning. Don’t leave town, they told me.
When they finally left, I got dressed in a rush. I quickly went outside to discover a bunch of news vehicles in the street with reporters all around. A TV channel helicopter was buzzing the building overhead. The passenger inside was the famous Los Angeles anchorman George Putnam. Wow!
It didn’t take long for the news alerts to show up on the local broadcasts. The story goes that the kidnapper apparently had brought the young boy to the building to hide him while demanding the ransom to be paid. The requested amount was for $200,000 (a valuation of over a million dollars today). As fate would have it, he knew where to drop the boy off and where to hide him.
Somehow the crime had morphed into a multi-state event and brought the FBI into the picture, even before this fateful day. Their facts were that the kidnapper knew about the building in advance. He focused his attention on the somewhat abandoned car inside. Since I had a dubious connection to the vehicle, I was now a prime suspect.
I had a feeling that the FBI agents were not going to just forget about me. I am sure that they had many reservations about our first meeting. It is very hard to get shocked early in the morning, and then give clear answers to questions while you are still in a daze.
Following the initial ordeal, another agent showed up at my door a week later. He showed me his identification and then I let him in. He proceeded to ask me more questions. I quickly came to the conclusion that they were having a hard time finding the fugitive, so to speak.
Well, since I was innocent, I took the initiative and asked him some questions. Why did they possibly suspect me and what was their reasoning behind their thinking? All I wanted to do was buy the car for transportation. I had lost my previous vehicle and that was all there was to it.
I don’t think the agent liked me asking him pointed questions and it showed. What right did this young “smart aleck” have to put him on the defensive. Probably not a good idea to do so at the time, but I was starting to get weary of the whole thing.
Capture And Conclusion
Before the irritated agent left, he posed one final question. Whom do “I” think did it? Since I was now fed up with being a suspect, I gave him one final jab.
With a straight face, I said I thought it was a Government Official. Someone who knew the workings of high-end law enforcement and was well equipped to evade capture. Next, I then said it possibly could have been another FBI agent. An inside job perhaps. That was a risky move, because I let him leave with a wry smile on his face.
A month or so later, they located and captured the kidnapper. It turns out he was a United States Post Office employee and had escaped to the country of England. I think he was apprehended in a London train station. Further details are a blank to me.
So, it turns out that he was, in fact, a government employee. I had been somewhat accurate in my criminal theorems. A sense of relief came over me that the ordeal was all over. If the real culprit hadn’t been found, I probably would have remained a suspect indefinitely. My over-the-top remarks might have come back to haunt me.
I have never done well inviting run ins with authoritative personnel. It always seemed to be that I was argumentative with the questions aimed at me. Thinking back, I should have been more cooperative with this investigation. Fortunately, I did not get sucked into the mire of criminal suspicion even further than I did. Live and learn, I suppose!