Historic Kidnapping Cases that Inspire Nightmares

Mary McElroy would later say her kidnappers were the only ones who understood her. Pinterest.

9. Mary McElroy went on to forgive her kidnappers, even though she was scarred for life by the traumatic ordeal she went through as a young lady

On the evening of May 27, 1933, a gang of four masked men broke into the Kansas City home of prominent local politician Henry F. McElroy. They weren’t after him, however. Instead, they were after his daughter, Mary. And they found her, soaking in the bath tub. They ordered the 25-year-old to dress and go with them. They even revealed their intention was to kidnap her and demand $60,000 in return for her freedom. Mary McElroy apparently laughed and claimed she was worth far more than that! One of the most famous crimes in inter-war America had begun.

Mary was taken to a farmhouse in rural Kansas. There, she was chained to a wall in the basement while the kidnappers waited to hear if there demands would be met. In the end, they settled for $30,000. They were men of their word and, after 29 hours in captivity, Mary was released, completely unharmed, on a golf course. The men even gave the young lady some change so that she could get a ride home.

The kidnapping was a media sensation. Perhaps because they were under the spotlight, the Kansas City Police worked overtime and within a week they had identified their prime suspects. Walter McGee was identified as the ringleader of the plot and was arrested along with his younger brother George. The owner of the farmhouse and another man were also charged. The trial was a huge event. Mary revealed that she had been treated well by the men. And when they were found guilty and Walter sentenced to death for kidnapping, she pleaded for his life. Her plea for mercy worked and the men were given long jail sentences instead.

Tragically, Mary never recovered from her kidnapping. She suffered several nervous breakdowns and then became addicted to opiates. She hid herself away from the public eye, living with her father until she shot herself in 1940. Her suicide note read: “My four kidnappers are probably the only four people who don’t consider me an utter fool. You have your death penalty now, so please, give them a chance.”