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List of kidnappings

This is a list of kidnappings.

Famous kidnappings

  • Cynthia Ann Parker a nine-year old white child taken in 1836 from her family by Comanches raiding their home at Fort Parker, Texas, in which she would live 24 years among the Comanche and marry war chief Peta Nocona and give birth to three children, including the last war chief of the Comanche, Quanah Parker.
  • Mary Jemison a 12-year-old white child taken in 1758 from her family by Seneca warriors. The only one not massacred in her family, Mary was adopted into the Seneca tribe and lived her whole life with the natives.
  • Edgardo Mortara a six-year-old Jewish child taken from his family by Pope Pius IX in 1858 because a housekeeper had secretly baptized him. The child was never returned to his parents notwithstanding the humanitarian pleas of President Ulysses S. Grant, Emperor Franz Josef, and Napoleon III. At age 18 he decided to remain Catholic, becoming an Augustinian priest and taking the name Pius.
  • Larcena Pennington and 11-year-old Mercedes Sais Quiroz, by Apaches (1860).
  • Ion Perdicaris and his stepson Cromwell Varley were kidnapped by Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli in Morocco, causing US Secretary of State John Hay to declare "This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead."
  • Bobby Dunbar was a child who disappeared near Swayze Lake in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana on August 23, 1912. After an eight month nation-wide search, investigators found a child, claimed by Lessie and Percy Dunbar as their son, in the hands of William Cantwell Walters of Mississippi, who was convicted of kidnapping. In 2004, further investigation by Dunbar's granddaughter led to conclusive DNA proof that the child in Walters' custody was not the Dunbar's son and that Walters had been wrongfully convicted.
  • Marion Parker - On December 14 1927, William Hickman kidnapped and murdered 12-year-old Marion Parker, the daughter of a Los Angeles banker. A few days after being paid a small ransom, Hickman was arrested and tried. On October 19 1928, became the first American kidnapper to be executed for his crime.
  • Brooke Hart, the son of a San Jose, California businessman, was kidnapped and murdered. His kidnappers were lynched by a mob, the last public lynching in California (1933).
  • North Korean abductions of South Koreans (began in 1950)
  • Robert (Bobby) Cosgrove Greenlease Jr. - the six-year-old boy was kidnapped and immediately murdered September 28, 1953 in Kansas City, Missouri by Bonnie Heady and Carl A. Hall. They then demanded and were paid a $600,000 ransom from the boy's father, a wealthy automobile dealer. Notable in the case was that more than half of the ransom money was stolen by a corrupt police officer and never recovered.
  • Graeme Thorne - Australia's first kidnap victim, aged 8. His parents Basil and Freda Thorne won the £100,000 Opera House Lottery (at that time, the names of winners were published). Five weeks later, on 7 July 1960, Stephen Leslie Bradley abducted Graeme and demanded a ransom. Thorne was killed and dumped, the partially decomposed body being discovered on 16 August. The case led to tighter rules about the publication of the names of lottery winners.
  • Joseph Bonanno, (1964). The crime family leader was kidnapped by his own enforcer, along with his lawyer. Forced to make economic and retirement agreements with other mafia bosses, he and his lawyer were let go alive.
  • James Cross, British diplomat, and Pierre Laporte, Quebec provincial politician. Their kidnappings by the Front de libération du Québec set off the 1970 October Crisis. Cross was released; Laporte was murdered.
  • North Korean abductions of Japanese (1970s – 1980s)
  • Steven Stayner, was kidnapped on his way home from school in 1972 in Merced, California and found alive in 1980. He died in 1989 in a motorcycle accident.
  • Lesley Whittle, 17-year-old woman kidnapped by the so-called Black Panther Donald Neilson in January 1974.
  • Peter Lorenz, German conservative politician and candidate for the mayor of West-Berlin, kidnapped in February 1975, only days before the elections. Possibly the first abduction of a politician ever in modern times. Was released unharmed after a week in exchange for five imprisoned leftist extremists, who were flown out to South Yemen. He won the majority of the votes while being abducted.
  • Walter Palmers, (1977), Austrian industrialist.
  • Hanns-Martin Schleyer, (1977), a German manager, was kidnapped by the extreme-left militant organisation Red Army Faction on September 5 1977. He was hidden in a high-rise in Erftstadt and was taken from Brussels. After the imprisoned RAF members were found dead in their prison cells in Stammheim Prison, he was killed on October 18 1977. His body was found in a car in Mulhouse.
  • Aldo Moro, (1978), former Italian Prime Minister, he was killed almost two months later.
  • Lee Kim Lai, (25 April 1978), 18-year-old Singapore police officer who was kidnapped from a sentry post and killed for his gun.
  • Marcus and Jeremiah Treanor were kidnapped from their mother's home March 3 1980 at the age of 7½ years old. Jeremiah was discovered three years later in a Child Prostitution sting by Scotland Yard. His brother had been murdered only a week before rescue. Twelve young boys in all were recovered, though unfortunately 38 kidnappings were linked to the group. This case was credited with being the impetus for the first child crimes unit in Scotland Yard. In trial, it was discovered that the Russian Mafia was linked to the ring. The three children who testified in the trial were put into witness protection.
  • Shergar, (1981), Epsom Derby-winning racehorse
  • Nina von Gallwitz, (1981), an eight-year-old German girl, was kidnapped on her way to school in Cologne on December 18 1981, her parents paid a ransom of 1.5 million German mark. Nina was freed on May 15 1982, at the rest area ‘Ohligser Heide’ after 149 days.
  • James Lee Dozier, (1981), a US general working for NATO in Italy. He and his wife were kidnapped by the Red Brigades on December 17, 1981, and freed by a NOCS commando on January 28, 1982.
  • Enrique Camarena, (1985), Mexican American DEA official, found dead.
  • Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli nuclear whistleblower, abducted by Mossad in Italy and brought back to Israel, where he was convicted of treason and espionage, and served 18 years in prison, 11 years in solitary confinement (1986).
  • Gerrit Jan Heijn, (1987), Dutch captain of industry and top executive of Ahold, Holland's largest retailer, brother of Albert Heijn; was kidnapped and killed in 1987 by Ferry E. The kidnapper pretended that his victim was still alive and asked for and received ransom; he was caught after spending one of the banknotes of the ransom, of which the numbers had been recorded. He served a prison sentence and is now free. It was observed with scorn that after his release he received over €300,000 back-payment of disability benefits for the time he was in prison (rules have since been changed, such payments are no longer possible).
  • Paul Vanden Boeynants, (1989), Belgian politician, kidnapped for one month, and released when a ransom was paid.
  • Sano Fusako, a girl kidnapped in Niigata, Japan on 13 November 1990 at age 10 and held captive for nine years, two months. She was found alive on 28 January 2000.
  • Prince Pedro Thiago of Orléans-Braganza was kidnapped on 26 May 1992 while on his way to college. Rescued by police a week later.
  • Sara Anne Wood was a 12-year-old girl who disappeared on a quiet road near her Herkimer, New York, home in August 1993. Lewis Lent, a janitor from Massachusetts, confessed to kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and killing Sara, but he refused to say where he buried her body. Lent had also plead guilty to the 1990 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Pittsfield, Massachusetts native Jimmy Bernardo. Lent abducted Jimmy from the Pittsfield movie theater where he worked as a janitor. He was sentenced to life without parole for the Bernardo murder and sentenced to 25 years to life for the Wood murder. He is currently in prison in Massachusetts. Lent is also suspected in a number of other child kidnapping cases. Lent recanted his confession and refuses to disclose the location of the body. Lent has said that he can't say where her body is because she is not buried alone. It has been speculated that Lent did not act alone and that his accomplice(s) are still at large.
  • Ben Needham was a 21-month-old British child who disappeared from the Greek island of Kos on 24 July 1991. It is presumed he was abducted and sold for illegal adoption.
  • Polly Klaas was kidnapped and murdered by Richard Allen Davis in Petaluma, California, in October 1993. Davis's car got stuck in the mud a few miles from Polly's house. A helpful local police officer pulled him out of the mud but did not query his license number with the police computer system, nor did he hear the BOLO broadcast to all CHP radios reporting that Davis was wanted for a parole violation. Davis has been convicted of kidnapping and first-degree murder and sentenced to death. BOLOs are now broadcast to all police radios: state, county, and municipal.
  • Mindy Tran was eight years old when she disappeared from her neighbourhood in August 1994, just after supper. She rode her bike down her quiet Kelowna, B.C. street and vanished. Hundreds of people searched for the girl but her body wasn't found until six weeks later when a man with a divining rod led police to a shallow grave near her parents' home. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
  • Delimar Vera Cuevas 1997, was a ten-day-old baby when she was kidnapped by a woman who set her house on fire to take her away. Six years later, her mother was very surprised to discover her at a birthday party.
  • Jmh153 (Jmh153) 20:33, 22 September 2008 (UTC)Sabine Dardenne (b. 28 October 1983) is a Belgian woman who was kidnapped and raped at age 12 by serial killer Marc Dutroux on 28 May 1996 while on her way to school. Rescued after 80 days, on 15 August 1996, together with also kidnapped 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez.
  • Laetitia Delhez (b. 25 November 1981) is a Belgian woman who was kidnapped and raped at age fourteen by serial killer Marc Dutroux on 9 August 1996 in Bertrix. Sabine Dardenne had requested a companion because she felt so alone. She was rescued on 15 August 1996.
  • Natascha Kampusch was abducted at age 10 in Austria in 1998 and held captive for the subsequent eight years until her escape in 2006.
  • Leszli Kálli, a Colombian-born author who was kidnapped on 12 April 1999, by virtue of the hijacking of the plane she was on. She was held for slightly more than a year by Columbian leftist guerrillas together with her father and the other passengers. She eventually published a novel about her experiences.
  • Hans van de Kimmenade 1999, a group of at least four armed (allegedly Arabian) men kidnapped this 17-year-old son of wealthy industrials from his estate in Helmond (the Netherlands). After the case got so much media attention, Van de Kimmenade was dropped off at a waterschap within 48 hours. No reason was given for his release. After months of research, the case appeared unsolvable.
  • Rolandito Salas Jusino 1999, playing, allegedly unsupervised, in a community park next to his house's backyard in the city of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. The case got very famous and he became an icon, though he was never found.
  • Humberto Alvarez-Machain, suspect in the murder of Enrique Camarena, kidnapped, allegedly by Americans, to bring him to trial in the United States.
  • Ingrid Betancourt, (2002), Colombian presidency candidate, by the FARC movement. She was freed 2008.
  • Arjan Erkel, a then 32-year-old medical aid worker for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) was kidnapped in Chechnya on 12 August 2002. Twenty months later he was released after the Dutch government paid a ransom of €1,000,000.
  • Shawn Hornbeck, was abducted in 2002 at the age of 11 and found alive at the age of 15 on January 12 2007, after being held captive for more than 4 years. 13-year-old Ben Ownby was also found with him after having been missing for 5 days.
  • Elizabeth Smart, was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City bedroom on June 5 2002 and was found alive nine months later in a suburb of Salt Lake City on March 12 2003.
  • Dru Sjodin, American college student, found dead on April 17, 2004.
  • James Brandon, was kidnapped in Iraq (2004), and released a few days later.
  • Claudia Melchers, in The Netherlands (2005). A group of armed men broke into her house, tied up her husband and children before taking Claudia with them. Motive is unknown, although it is suspected that it was done to receive a large payment, seeing as her father - Hans Melchers - is one of the richest citizens of The Netherlands.
  • Carol Smith was kidnapped by Cameron Hooker and held for seven years as a sex slave.
  • Rahul, the seven-year-old boy, disappeared on 18 May 2005 in Alappuzha, Kerala, India. The local police and the CBI are clueless as they could not find any tangible evidences till now.
  • Taylor Behl, (13 October 19876 September 2005), a 17-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University freshman found dead on October 5, 2005, in Mathews County, Virginia, after having gone missing on 5 September 2005
  • Danielle Erica Cramer, a missing 15-year-old girl, disappeared on June 14, 2006, in Bloomfield, Connecticut, was found locked in a small hidden room situated under a staircase on June 6, 2007.
  • Adam Walsh, (14 November 1974 – c. 27 July 1981), was the 7-year-old son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh and his wife, Revé. He was abducted on 27 July 1981, from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, and later found murdered.

Modern kidnappings of celebrities or their relatives

Kidnappers interested in getting a large ransom or a political effect often target celebrities or their relatives. Here are some of the people affected by these crimes:

  • Beatriz Adriana: Mexican singer/actress whose son was kidnapped and found dead in Tijuana. There were rumors that his death was the result of his failure to pay a drug debt, but no such evidence was ever found.
  • Tony Blair: According to a British tabloid, Scotland Yard foiled an attempt to kidnap his four year old son in 2006
  • Jorge and Juan Born, (1974), scions of the Bunge y Born business were kidnapped in September by the Montoneros and only released after the payment of a $60 million ransom.
  • Riddick Bowe's wife, Julie and his five kids were kidnapped for five days by Bowe himself.
  • Jorge Campos (soccer player): His father was kidnapped and later found alive in Acapulco, Mexico.
  • Rajkumar
  • Julio César Chávez received threatening calls, saying his sons would be kidnapped.
  • Françoise Claustre: French archaeologist who was kidnapped in Chad by guerillas led by Hissène Habré. Her husband, Pierre, was the head of the French foreign aid mission in Chad and he was also taken hostage when he tried to secure her release.
  • Adolph Coors III: Heir to the Coors beer fortune. He was found dead.
  • Baron Édouard-Jean Empain: Industrialist who was kidnapped for ransom. His captors cut off one of his fingers in order to bring proof that they held him.
  • Alejandro Fernandez: His brother was kidnapped (see Vicente Fernandez).
  • Vicente Fernandez: The famous Mexican singer's son, Vicente Fernandez Jr., was kidnapped and later released alive.
  • John Paul Getty III, kidnapped in Italy in 1973. His grandfather, the then world's richest man, American multi-billionaire oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty, refused to pay his $3 million ransom until one of the boy's ears was cut off and sent to a newspaper.
  • Eric Peugeot, kidnapped in France in 1960, son of French car tycoon Armand Peugeot
  • Susana Gimenez: Argentine diva whose boyfriend's father was kidnapped on January 8, 2004. The father was rescued by police a month later.
  • Georgiy Gongadze: Prominent Ukrainian journalist kidnapped and later found beheaded in 2000. His disappearance has triggered a major political and diplomatic scandal also involving United States and other Western countries. No details of the crime revealed yet.
  • Cordelia Gonzalez: Well-known Puerto Rican actress who has made some Hollywood films; was kidnapped at gunpoint during July 2005. Released after paying ransom.
  • Alejandra Guzman: The Mexican singing diva has received several calls threatening to kidnap her ten year old daughter, because of which she has hired extra security. She always takes her daughter with her on the road.
  • William Randolph Hearst: His granddaughter Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the SLA in 1974. Her father gave $6 million in food to the poor of the Bay Area as ransom, but she was not released. She became part of her captor's group and was later convicted on bank robbery charges.
  • Julio Iglesias's father was kidnapped in 1985. Found well and alive.
  • Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, son of the Hong Kong tycoon, Li Ka Shing: Kidnapped by Cheung Chi Keung, AKA "Big Spender". He was released after the world record payment of a HK$1Billion (US$134 million) ransom in cash. Cheung was later captured and executed in Guangzhou in 2000.
  • Charles Lindbergh: The aviator's two-year old son, Charles Jr., was kidnapped in 1932 and was killed. This was among the most famous of modern kidnappings of celebrities' relatives. See Lindbergh kidnapping.
  • Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau: First daughter of Fiji and senator, during a coup against her father. Kidnappers threatened to kill her, but she survived.
  • Carlos Pesquera: Former candidate for governor of Puerto Rico and president of the PNP party, held captive for a few hours on July 2004 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; released after paying captors 1,000 dollars.
  • Yoko Ono: Her second husband Anthony Cox abducted their daughter Kyoko Chan Cox in 1971. Ono and her daughter were finally reunited in 1998, Cox remains in hiding.
  • Eric Peugeot, son of Raymond Peugeot, an automobile industry millionaire, was kidnapped at the age of four in 1960 in Paris. He was returned after payment of a ransom, and his kidnappers arrested a few years later.
  • Ruben Omar Romano, Argentine Soccer coach, in Mexico. He was rescued two months later.
  • Cesar Rosas: Member of Los Lobos whose wife, Sandra, was kidnapped on October 23, 1999 and later found dead. Gabriel Gomez was accused and sentenced for her kidnapping and murder.
  • Hanns-Martin Schleyer: German manager and employer representative. He was kidnapped in Köln in 1977. He was found dead in Mulhouse, France.
  • Frank Sinatra, Jr., son of Frank Sinatra, was kidnapped and released after ransom was paid.
  • Veruska Ramirez, former Miss Venezuela, kidnapped and released three hours later, after signing 15 autographs for her captors.
  • Karl Maria von Spret: West-Germany's ambassador to Guatemala, was kidnapped in 1970 in Guatemala City. He was killed.
  • Johnny Tapia: The world boxing champion saw his mother raped and kidnapped when he was 8 years old. He was hiding when he witnessed the assault. His mother's body was found on a road days later.
  • Thalía: The Mexican Diva's sisters, the also famous actress Laura Zapata and Ernestina Sodi, were kidnapped. They were both released alive.
  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili: The basketball player, a star in his home country (Georgia), had strangers call to his house and threaten to kidnap his brother and mother after it became known he signed a million-dollar contract with the NBA's Denver Nuggets. As a consequence, he moved all his family to Denver.
  • Yuri: She was going to be kidnapped, but the plans folded when one of the would be kidnappers left the criminal band that would have committed the act, and told her cousin about the plans.
  • Laura Zapata (See Thalía).
  • David Letterman In 2005, FBI agents and Montana authorities foiled a kidnapping of Letterman's son from his Choteau home.

Also of notice is that Dominican actor Andres Garcia announced he doubled his security guard numbers, afraid he and his family could get kidnapped too. On the same line, Manny Pacquiao, world boxing champion at the Flyweight, Jr. Featherweight and Featherweight divisions, has had to hire six security guards who constantly surround him and his family in his home country of the Philippines, after receiving kidnap threatening calls from several groups.

This crime is flourishing in poor countries, where the economic situation can drive people to desperate measures.

Faked kidnappings

Assumed kidnap conspiracies that turned out to be fake

Suspected kidnappings

Kidnapping in lieu of extradition

See main article: Extradition and abduction

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