It Happened On #78

I thought I’d do something special for today’s It Happened On. Along with the normal world history, I thought I’d also include Canadian history. Some people are die hard Canadians, so to please that crowd, I’ll add Canadian history

It happened on December 14 1874…a botched burglary attempt further clouds one of the earliest kidnap-for-ransom cases. As he was about to go to bed, wealthy New Yorker Holmes Van Brunt heard burglars breaking into his brother’s house next door. Van Brunt engaged the thieves in a shotgun battle that left the robbers severely wounded. On his deathbed, one of the burglars confessed that he had been responsible for kidnapping Charley Ross. He then promised that the child would be returned alive

The Charley Ross kidnapping was the year’s biggest story. Two men had snatched the four-year-old son of rich Philadelphia grocer Christian Ross from the front lawn of his house on July 1. On July 4, the kidnappers delivered the first of 23 poorly spelled ransom notes to Ross. Several days later, they asked for $20,000

After some stalling, Ross agreed to pay the ransom, but no one ever came to pick up the money

Generating mountains of publicity, the Ross kidnapping became the first widely followed kidnap-for-ransom incident. Over the next 50 years there was a spike in the number of such cases, culminating with the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s son in 1932. Following that high-profile crime, the government’s power over criminal matters was greatly broadened, and the penalties for kidnapping were increased

Despite the dying criminal’s confession, Charley Ross was never found

Also on December 14 1799, George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old

Meanwhile, in Canada, on December 14 1993, Richard Barnabé beaten by 6 Montreal police officers


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