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More on the kidnapping of Gil Jamieson by Myles Fukunaga

Posted by on Dec 11, 2010 in 1920s | Comments Off on More on the kidnapping of Gil Jamieson by Myles Fukunaga

The kidnapping of Gill Jamieson by Myles Fukunaga is the subject of Chapter V in Edward Dean Sullivan’s The Snatch Racket (Vanguard Press, 1932). Fukunaga’s first ransom note looked like the work of what Sullivan called “a half-mad and flighty individual” [page 75]. He was certainly educated, given to pompous language, a touch of cruel humor, and the melodramatic flourish. The note began, “The fates have decided so we have been given this privilege in writing you on this important matter. We presume you will be alarmed at first. Nevertheless we hope that you will get over this surprise soon and listen to the writers namely. What is it all about? “Your son has been kidnapped for ransom!” The letter included the usual ransom note talking points: Keep this a secret; Collect the ransom in unmarked bills of specified...

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Child Kidnapping in the Twenties

Posted by on Dec 4, 2010 in 1920s | Comments Off on Child Kidnapping in the Twenties

Racketeers may have been responsible for turning kidnapping into a “snatch racket,” but they were not alone in profiting in the advantages enjoyed by kidnappers. Some revenge-seekers, thrill junkies, and psychopathic killers may have asked for a ransom, but their base motives could put the kidnap victim at greater risk than the prisoners of cautious criminal “businessmen.” In these cases, it seemed, children were especially vulnerable. The infant Blakely Coughlin (abducted in 1920), 5-year-old Giuseppi Verotta (1921), 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks (killed by Leopold and Loeb in 1924), Marion Parker (1927), Grace Budd (1928), and Gill Jamieson (1929) were among the kidnapped children who never returned to their parents. By contrast, five-year-old Jackie Thompson, the first child snatched by an organized gang, was released after payment of $17,000 and an $8,000 note. All of these abductions and murders were...

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Before the “Snatch Racket”

Posted by on Nov 24, 2010 in 1920s | Comments Off on Before the “Snatch Racket”

Kidnapping is an ancient crime, mentioned in the Bible, but for millennia largely associated with war, piracy, and slavery. False imprisonment was recognized as a felony under English common law in the early 13th century but soon fell into the class of “minor felony.” While the United States “without doubt” experienced hundreds of cases before the 1920s, the instances were isolated and ransom was rarely the motive. With rare exception, little attention was paid beyond the place the crime was committed.  ( For discussions of the origins and development of kidnapping and kidnapping law, see Hugh A. Fisher and Matthew F. McGuire, “Kidnapping and the So-called Lindbergh Law,” 12 N.Y.U. L.Q. Review 646 (1934-1935); K. A. Aickin, “Kidnapping at Common Law,” 1 Res Judicatae 130 (1935-1938), both at On July 1, 1874, four-year-old Charles Ross, the son of...

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