The kIdnapping and murder of Adolph Coors III

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We have all heard of Coors beer and some of us probably drink it every once in a while. I do.

But not so many of us know the story and the drama behind the name.Adolph Coors stowed away to America at the age of 21 with a dream of brewing great beers. He realized that dream in 1873 on the banks of Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado.

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On February 9th 1960 the Grandson of Adolph Coors and heir, Adolph Coors III,disappeared while driving to work from his Morrison, Colorado, home.  the then chairman of the Golden, Colorado, brewery was kidnapped and held for ransom before being shot to death. Surrounding evidence launched one of the FBI’s largest manhunts: the search for Joe Corbett.

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On February 9, 1960, a milkman sounded his horn several times in an attempt to get the attention of the driver of a station wagon that was blocking the middle of the bridge over Turkey Creek, near Morrison, Colorado. When there was no response, he got out of his truck and walked to the vehicle—it was empty, but its engine was running and the radio playing. A few more beeps on the horn didn’t bring the driver back, so the milkman moved the car himself to the side of the road, noticing a reddish-brown stain on the bridge and a hat on the edge of the river bank below.

The milkman reported the matter to the local police, who quickly determined that the car belonged to Adolph Coors, III. Heir to the Coors Brewing Company fortune, Coors had left his house—not far from the bridge—that morning, but had not been seen since. Searchers soon spread out over the area looking for the missing 45-year-old father of four. In addition to the hat, a few objects belonging Coors were found below the bridge, but no other trace was found during the wider search.

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Twenty-four hours later, the FBI’s Denver Division entered the case to help Colorado authorities—with the passage of a day since Coors’ disappearance, the federal kidnapping statute could be invoked and the full investigative resources of the Bureau could be called upon. Coors’ wife, Mary, received a typewritten note that day demanding a ransom for the return of her husband. Under the guidance of law enforcement, she followed the instructions regarding contacting the kidnapper but heard nothing back.

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The FBI Laboratory began analyzing the available evidence, especially the ransom note, which had a distinct typeface and was written on paper with an uncommon watermark.

Meanwhile, state and local police pursued leads closer to the scene of the crime, conducting extensive interviews and other investigative activities. They soon focused on a canary yellow Mercury that had been seen in the area on several occasions and tried to track down its driver, a man who called himself Walter Osborne. The FBI learned that Osborne had disappeared around the time of Coors’ abduction, but before doing so had obtained a gun, handcuffs, and a typewriter. And the Bureau also learned that Osborne had obtained an insurance policy at a previous job, and that policy designated a man named Joseph Corbett as his beneficiary.

Corbett, in turn, had a son—Joseph Corbett, Jr.—who had previously been convicted of murder but had escaped from a California prison. Now a chief suspect in the Coors case, the FBI obtained a fugitive warrant for him and placed him on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list soon after.

Throughout the summer of 1960, Corbett, Jr.’s trail remained cold. But tragically, the trail leading to Adolph Coors ended on September 11, 1960, when some hikers came across a pair of trousers in the woods about 12 miles southwest of Sedalia, a town south of Denver. The pants had a key ring bearing the initials ACIII. The trousers, other items of clothing, and skeletal remains found there were determined to belong to Coors. A jacket and shirt had bullet holes that showed he had been shot in the back, and an analysis of a shoulder bone confirmed this.

The story of Coors’ disappearance remained in the public eye and was featured in various publications, including Reader’s Digest. Corbett, Jr.’s wanted photo sparked interest and leads across America, but it was the magazine’s readers in Canada who would break the case. One reader pointed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their FBI allies to an apartment rented by a man who resembled Corbett, Jr., but the man had recently moved on. The next day, the manager of a rooming house in Winnipeg called local police to report that a man who looked like the fugitive had recently stayed at her flophouse. She also noted that the suspect had been driving a fire engine red Pontiac.

That new information went out across Canada, and on October 29, 1960, a Vancouver police officer reported a similar vehicle parked outside of local motor inn. Soon, police—with the assistance of the FBI’s Toronto legal attaché office—were knocking on the door of the hotel room. The man who answered said, “I give up. I’m the man you want.”

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Corbett, Jr. was returned to Colorado, where he was tried by the state for Coors’ murder (because Coors’ remains were found within the state, he wasn’t tried on federal kidnapping charges). During the trial, the FBI offered 23 agents, five lab examiners, and a fingerprint expert to help put forward an iron-clad case. Especially compelling was the ransom note believed to have been typed on Corbett, Jr.’s typewriter, and damning evidence taken from his burned-out canary yellow Mercury, which was recovered by law enforcement in New Jersey shortly after Coors’ disappearance. On March 19, 1961, Joseph Corbett, Jr. was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

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Corbett never testified at his trial and never made any statement, but the evidence was enough to convince the jury who convicted him in 1961. He was released in 1978.

In 1996 Corbett gave his only interview following his release from prison; in it, he maintained his innocence.On August 24, 2009, Corbett, who was 80 and had been suffering from cancer, was found dead in his apartment of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Adolph Coors III was not the only beer ‘brewer’ to have been kidnapped.Edward Bremer of the Schmidt Brewery and Freddie Heineken of the Heineken beer company also had been kidnapped, however they were both released.

 

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The bizarre abduction of Patty Hearst

 

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On February 4  1974, 19-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was abducted from the apartment she shared with her fiancée in Berkeley, California.

Stephen Weed, Hearst’s fiance, was beaten unconscious by the two abductors. Soon, a ransom demand came from the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a radical activist group led by Donald DeFreeze.. But a few short months later, Patty Hearst appeared to be on their side.

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On March 5, 1973, Donald DeFreeze escaped from prison. Radical penal activists and future SLA members Russell Little and William Wolfe took DeFreeze to Patricia Soltysik’s house.The SLA was led by DeFreeze, who, after a prison acquaintance named Wheeler left, was the only African American in the group. By the time the group became active, most of the members of the tiny group were women, some of whom have, like Soltysik and her roommate Nancy Ling Perry, been described as in lesbian relationships. The members included William and Emily Harris and Angela Atwood.

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The SLA instructed William Hearst to distribute $70 in food for ever poor person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. Hearst agreed to give away $2 million to the poor in Oakland to have Patty released. The Black Muslims, Malcolm X’s former organization, were chosen to manage the food distribution, which turned into a riot when more than 10,000 people showed up and fought for the food. Afterwards, the SLA demanded an additional $6 million giveaway. Hearst refused and they did not release Patty.

The Hearst story took a strange and unexpected turn two months after the abduction, when the SLA robbed the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. The surveillance cameras clearly showed that Patty Hearst was one of the machine gun-toting robbers. Soon after followed a taped message from the SLA in which Hearst claimed that she had voluntarily joined the SLA and was now to be known as “Tania.”

On April 15, 1974, she was recorded on surveillance video wielding an M1 carbine while robbing the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank at 1450 Noriega Street in San Francisco. Hearst announced herself under her pseudonym of Tania.Two men who entered the bank while the robbery was occurring were shot and wounded.

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According to later testimony at her trial, a witness thought Hearst had been several paces behind the others when running to the getaway car

On May 17, 1974, police were tipped that the SLA leaders were at a Los Angeles home. With 400 police and FBI agents outside the house, a tremendous gun battle broke out. The police threw gas canisters into the house and then shot at them, sparking a fire in whichDeFreeze and five other SLA members died. However, Hearst was not inside the house. She was not found until September 1975.

Hearst helped make improvised explosive devices, one of which failed to detonate, in two unsuccessful attempts to kill policemen during August 1975.Marked money found in the apartment ,when she was arrested linked Hearst to the SLA armed robbery of Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California.

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She was the getaway car driver for the robbery in which Myrna Opsahl, who was at the bank making a deposit, was shot dead by a masked Emily Harris, thereby creating a potential for felony murder charges against Hearst, and making her a possible witness against Harris for a capital offense.

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Patty Hearst was put on trial for armed robbery and convicted, despite her claim that she had been coerced, through repeated rape, isolation, and brainwashing, into joining the SLA. Prosecutors believed that she actually orchestrated her own kidnapping because of her prior involvement with one of the SLA members. Despite any real proof of this theory, she was convicted and sent to prison. President Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence after she had served almost two years. Hearst was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.

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The kidnapping of Dr Herrema by the IRA

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 On October 3rd, 1975, Dr Tiede Herrema was driving from his home in Castletroy, Co Limerick, to an early-morning meeting at the Ferenka steel plant at Annacotty, when he was abducted by two republicans, Marion Coyle and Eddie Gallagher.
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Herrema, , had been dispatched by the parent company in his native Netherlands to troubleshoot the strike-ridden factory, Ferenka,which employed 1,200 at a time when the Irish economy was reeling from the oil crisis and six years of Northern Ireland troubles.

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The kidnappers, banking that Liam Cosgrave’s government would quietly cave in, so as not to scare off other foreign investors, threatened to “execute” Herrema in 48 hours unless it released the republican prisoners Rose Dugdale(who had given birth to Gallagher’s son in Limerick Prison), Kevin Mallon (a friend of Coyle’s) and James Hyland.

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Rose Dugdale, An English millionaire’s daughter who took part in an IRA helicopter bombing attempt and an infamous art theft at Russborough House in Co Wicklow.

It was the start of a 36-day ordeal for Herrema and his family, sparking the biggest manhunt in the State’s history.

Two weeks later a tape of Herrema’s voice was released, accompanied by demands for a £2 million ransom and a flight to the Middle East. After 18 days the kidnappers were traced to a terraced house in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.

The Coalition Government of Liam Cosgrave made it very clear from very start that there would be no release of prisoners, no room for compromise.

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A Nationwide Garda operation was mounted with almost half the force engaged in house to house searches and roadblocks. But Gallagher and Coyle had gone to ground in a “safe house” near Mountmellick, Co. Laois.

Days passed and the kidnappers sent taped messages from Herrema pleading for his life. The intervention of a Capuchin monk as a mediator proved fruitless. Gallagher asked for Phil Flynn – a trade union leader and Sinn Féin member at the time – to be brought in as an alternative mediator and while Gallagher began to lower his demands – the Government were steadfast but no closer to finding Herrema. Gallagher & Coyle had moved hideouts – this time to a council house in Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, which was itself searched by Gárdaí but the occupants were tipped off and the kidnappers hid with Herrema in the attic undisturbed. But 1410 St Evin’s Park was to be scene of the final act in this drama when the controversial questioning of accomplices by the Gárdaí exposed the location. 18 days into the kidnapping, a dawn raid on the house failed to release Herrema and thus began the Siege of Monasterevin.

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For a further 18 days, Ireland’s and the World’s press gathered. The Siege of Monasterevin was headline news every day. But behind the scenes what negotiations were going on to bring this dramatic standoff to an end after 36 days? – The longest and most dramatic kidnapping in Irish History.

The pair must have begun to suspect that there was something unusual about their captive shortly into the 36-day odyssey. For the first 14 days of the ordeal he had no idea where he was, confined to a tiny room in a house, in stinking conditions, feet and hands tied, cotton wool pushed into his ears.

Today Herrema is baffled, even irritated, that interviewers consistently overlook this part. “You all start by asking me about the period in Monasterevin . . . But the other part before, nobody talks about it, and that part was even worse for me. I didn’t know where we were. I didn’t even know how many were in the car that took me there.”

Once at St Evin’s Park in Monasterevin, by contrast, surrounded by armoured cars, searchlights, snipers and the hotshots of world media, he knew exactly where he was and what he had to do.

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He set out to create calm, to humanize himself in his kidnappers’ eyes. His eldest son was about the same age as Gallagher. Coyle, he noted, listened to the conversations but never spoke. “For me that was an indication: be careful with her. As long as I can get them talking I learn something. But she didn’t talk at all. I could never reach her.”

The coping mechanisms that seemed second nature to him, a man for whom mental challenges were almost a sport, must have seemed odd to his kidnappers. “When the night is over and you have nothing to eat, you have nothing to do. That is very important to understand, because all you have then is the waiting. You cannot tolerate that all day. So you try to make the day.”

What Gallagher and Coyle didn’t realize is that Dr Herrema had been a Dutch resisttance fighter during WWII.

He was in his early 20s when the Nazis arrested him. He was sent to Prague where he was brutally interrogated after that  he was transported to Ratibor – now the Polish town of Racibórz.

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Where about half of his fellow prisoners were shot, some under 14 years of age. Even after he was freed by the soviet troops he still had to walk 500 KM to be transferred to the US troops. Needless to say he was made out of sturdy stuff.

After several days without food or water they began to accept supplies – as well as underpants and a chamber pot – hoisted up in a shopping basket. On day 18 Gallagher claimed to be getting severe headaches and neck cramps, which Herrema took as a sign that he was seeking a way out. Soon afterwards the kidnappers threw their guns out of a window and surrendered.

It was on this day 41 years ago November 7 1975, Dr Herrema was released.

Coyle was sentenced to 15 years, of which she served nine. Gallagher served 14 years of his 20-year sentence. In 1978 Gallagher and Dugdale became the first convicted prisoners in the State’s history to be married behind bars.

 

The tragic life of John Paul Getty III

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Most people will be aware of the name Getty be it from Getty Oil or Getty Images

Getty Oil was founded by J.Paul Getty sr. in 1957 Fortune magazine named him the richest living American,while the 1966 Guinness Book of Records named him as the world’s richest private citizen, worth an estimated $1.2 billion (approximately $8.8 billion in 2016).At his death, he was worth more than $2 billion (approximately $8.3 billion in 2016). A book published in 1996 ranked him as the 67th richest American who ever lived, based on his wealth as a percentage of the gross national product.

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Despite his wealth, Getty was notably frugal.Getty famously had a pay phone installed at Sutton Place, helping to seal his reputation as a miser. Getty placed dial-locks on all the regular telephones, limiting their use to authorized staff, and the coin-box telephone was installed for others.

He famously negotiated his grandson’s, John Paul Getty III, ransom.

At 3 a.m. on 10 July 1973, Getty, then age 16, was kidnapped in the Piazza Farnese in Rome.A ransom note was received, demanding $17 million in exchange for his safe return. When that ransom message arrived, some family members suspected the kidnapping was merely a ploy by the rebellious youngster as he had frequently joked about staging his own kidnapping to extract money from his frugal grandfather. He was blindfolded and imprisoned in a mountain hideout. A second demand was received, but had been delayed by an Italian postal strike.John Paul Getty, Jr. asked his father for the money, but was refused.

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Getty Sr. argued that were he to pay the ransom, then his 14 other grandchildren could also be kidnapped. In November 1973, an envelope containing a lock of hair and a human ear was delivered to a daily newspaper with a threat of further mutilation of Paul, unless $3.2 million was paid: “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.”

At this point Getty Sr. agreed to pay a ransom, although he would only pay $2.2 million, because that was the maximum amount that was tax deductible. He loaned the remainder to his son who was responsible for repaying the sum at 4% interest. The reluctant Getty Sr. negotiated a deal and got his grandson back for about $2.9 million. Getty III was found alive in a filling station of Lauria, in the province of Potenza, on 15 December 1973, shortly after the ransom was paid.

Nine of the kidnappers were apprehended, including a carpenter, an hospital orderly, an ex-con and an olive-oil dealer from Calabria, as well as high-ranking members of the ‘Ndrangheta — a Mafia-type organization in Calabria — such as Girolamo Piromalli and Saverio Mammoliti. Two were convicted and sent to prison; the others, including the ‘Ndrangheta bosses, were acquitted for lack of evidence. Most of the ransom money was never recovered.In 1977, Getty had an operation to rebuild the ear that had been cut off by his kidnappers.

Getty spent most of his childhood in Rome, Italy, while his father headed the Italian division for the Getty family’s oil business. His parents divorced in 1964 and his father married again in 1966 to model and actress Talitha Pol.

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They adopted a hippie lifestyle and spent much time in England and Morocco during the 1960s. Getty stayed in boarding school at St. George’s English School (later St. George’s British International School), in Rome. In early 1971, he was expelled from St. Georges after having painted the hallways of the school one night, taking inspiration from Charles Manson’s Helter Skelter. Later that year, his stepmother died of a heroin overdose in Rome.While his father moved back to England, he remained in Italy, where he lived a bohemian life, frequented nightclubs, and took part in left-wing demonstrations. Endowed with a considerable artistic inclination, he reportedly earned a living making jewelry, selling paintings and appearing as an extra in movies.

In 1974, Getty married German Gisela Martine Zacher (née Schmidt), who was five months pregnant. He had known her and her twin sister Jutta since before his kidnapping. Getty was 18 years old when his son, Balthazar, was born in 1975. The couple divorced in 1993.Getty tried his hand at acting in European films: he played supporting parts in Raúl Ruiz’ The Territory and in Wim Wenders’s The State of Things, which was shot at the same time as Ruiz’s film, using part of its cast and crew.

Getty was an alcoholic and drug addict. In 1981, he imbibed a valium, methadone, and alcohol cocktail which caused liver failure and a stroke, leaving him a quadriplegic and nearly blind. He never fully recovered and remained severely handicapped for the rest of his life. By 1987, however, a daily regime of exercise, physiotherapy and speech therapy during which he reportedly showed “extraordinary willpower,” had helped him regain some degree of autonomy.

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He could again visit concerts and cinema, and was even able to ski, when strapped to a metal frame.

In 1999, Getty, along with several other members of his family, became citizens of the Republic of Ireland as part of the “Passports for Investment” scheme of approximately £1 million each, under a law which has since been repealed.They lived in the Gurthalougha House, on the shores of Lough Derg here in Co Tipperary.

Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, also purchased eleven Irish passports in 1990 as part of this scheme.

On 5 February 2011, aged 54, Getty died at Wormsley, Buckinghamshire, following a long illness. He had been in poor health since his 1981 drug overdose. He was survived by his son and his mother.

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