By Paul B. Kidd   

Famous Kidnappings

Most countries have a famous kidnapping.

On 10 July 1973, in Rome, John Paul Getty III, grandson of oil billionaire and renowned scrooge, J. Paul Getty, was kidnapped and a ransom of $17 million was demanded over the phone for his safe return. Not one willing to part with his hard-earned money in a hurry, his grandfather refused to pay any ransom, "on principle." In November 1973, an envelope containing a lock of hair and a human ear was delivered to a daily newspaper. The note attached said, "This is Paul's ear. If we don't get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Still reluctant to part with the ransom, Getty senior negotiated a deal and got his grandson back for about $2 million. John Paul Getty III was found alive in southern Italy shortly after the ransom was paid. His kidnappers were never caught.

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In America's most famous case of kidnapping and "crime of the century" in 1932, the baby son of the world's greatest living hero, Charles A. Lindbergh, was abducted from Lindbergh's New Jersey home by an intruder using a crude, home-made ladder to gain entry to the second story bedroom. A ransom note was left on the windowsill. The demand was paid but the child was found dead in the woods near the house seventy-three days later. Two years after, thirty-five-year-old Bronx carpenter Bruno Richard Hauptmann, although he vehemently protested his innocence to the bitter end, was tried, found guilty and executed.

In Paris in 1960, four-year-old Eric Peugeot, son of the Paris automobile millionaire, Raymond Peugeot, was kidnapped from the playground of a fashionable golf course outside of Paris. His kidnappers demanded $35,000 — about the equivalent of a round of drinks to mega-rich Peugeot — for the boy's safe return. The ransom was promptly paid and the lad was returned unharmed a short time later. His kidnappers were arrested in 1962 and each sentenced to twenty years in jail.

But unlike the more notorious cases from around the world, Australia's most famous kidnapping wasn't of a member of a rich and famous family. It was also Australia's first ever kidnapping. In fact, kidnapping was so unheard of in Australia that until it happened, the Crimes Act didn't even carry a provision for it! Australians believed that child kidnappings only happened on the other side of the world, not in Australia where kids could swim, fish and bushwalk in absolute safety and the only predators were the sharks.

Yet due to the circumstances surrounding the case and the extraordinary scientific detection utilized for those archaic times, the Graeme Thorne kidnapping is arguably Australia's best-known crime and a crime that became famous around the world.


1. Famous Kidnappings

2. A Lucky Winner

3. I have Your Son

4. Search Operation

5. An Appeal to the Public

6. The Shocking Discovery

7. The Suspect

8. Trial of the Century

9. Forensic Evidence

10. Sentencing and Aftermath

11. The Author

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The Lindbergh Kidnapping
Leopold & Loeb
Chowchilla Kidnapping
Cudahy Kidnapping
Greenlease Kidnappers
Brooke-Hart Kidnapping

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