5 Celebrity Kidnapping Plots

Every kidnapping is a tragedy, but most involve people unfamiliar to the public. Occasionally, though, there are celebrity kidnappings on par with the Lindbergh baby and Patricia Hearst. Here are a few such crimes.

1. Shergar

Famous people haven't been the only targets of high-profile kidnappings; well-known animals aren't safe, either. Shergar was a dominant racehorse that won European Horse of the Year in 1981, the same year in which he won the prestigious Epsom Derby by a jaw-dropping 10 lengths. After he retired from racing and went out to stud, though, things got a little weird.

One morning in February 1983, a car rolled up outside the stallion's stable in County Kildare, Ireland. Six masked men jumped out and stuck guns in Shergar's handlers' faces. The group of men, some toting submachine guns, forced Shergar into a horse trailer and drove off. Cleverly, the kidnappers carried out the horse heist on the biggest livestock-trading day in Ireland, so it didn't look at all unusual for them to be hauling a horse trailer around.

The kidnappers called in hefty ransom demands, which only made sense given Shergar's 80,000-pound stud fee. The horse's ownership group didn't want to pay, though, since they felt forking over a ransom would only encourage future horse-nappings. After four days, the kidnappers quit calling, and despite a massive door-to-door hunt throughout Ireland no one ever saw Shergar again. The kidnappers have also eluded the police, although most observers agree that the IRA likely stole the horse and hoped to spend a five-million-pound ransom on guns.

2. Ruben Omar Romano

Professional athletes and their families are particularly high-profile kidnapping targets in poorer areas of the world. Ruben Omar Romano found out the hard way. Romano, a gifted midfielder who later became an embattled journeyman coach, was coaching Cruz Azul in Mexico when kidnappers dragged him into a car outside of the team's practice facility in July 2005.

Romano remained hostage in a dingy house in a low-rent district of Mexico City until September, when Mexico's Federal Investigative Agency rescued him and captured the kidnappers. Romano, for his part, took the whole ordeal in stride, saying, "The treatment was not bad. I'm not complaining. I was not mistreated."

His team wasn't quite as humane as the kidnappers, though. When Cruz Azul struggled upon Romano's return, the team gave him a pink slip in December after just 11 matches.

3. John Paul Getty III

Getty, the grandson of American oil tycoon John Paul Getty, spent a lot of time in Italy, where his father looked after the Italian parts of the family's oil interests. In 1973, the 17-year-old Getty was kidnapped and held for ransom. The elder Getty balked at paying the kidnappers, so they borrowed a tactic from Calabrian bandits of days gone by: they cut off Getty III's ear and mailed it to a newspaper in Rome, then sent photos of the boy missing his ear.

At this point, even the tight-fisted Getty squad decided they would pay the ransom lest the kidnappers follow through on their promise to send the boy back in pieces. John Paul III's dad secured the ransom money from the boy's grandfather, but only as a loan that he would have to pay back at 4% interest. (This was a typically classy move by Grandpa; the patriarch also remarked, "I have 14 other grandchildren. If I pay a penny of ransom, I'll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.") Once the kidnappers received the ransom, they released Getty, who was in fairly good shape with the exception of his missing ear. His son, actor Balthazar Getty, plays Tommy Walker on ABC's Brothers & Sisters, though it's been rumored that he may be dropped from the cast.

4. Adolph Coors III

Coors was the 45-year-old chairman of his family's brewing company when he disappeared on his way to his office in 1960. His hat and glasses were found near his abandoned still-running car outside of Denver, but there was no trace of Coors himself. The Coors family knew what it was like to be the focus of a kidnapping scheme; Adolph Coors II himself had been the intended target of kidnappers 27 years earlier. The family sat back and waited for the ransom demand to come in, as Coors II said, "They have something I want to buy "“ my son. The price is secondary."

Although the Coors family managed to stay calm, their story didn't have a happy ending. Seven months later Coors' body was discovered in the Rocky Mountain foothills, and police eventually caught his murderer, Joseph Corbett, Jr. Corbett, a former Fulbright scholar and escaped murderer from California, had spent two years planning to kidnap Coors and ransom him for $500,000. He ended up murdering Coors in the process, though, and when his typewriter and car were linked to the kidnapping and ransom notes, Corbett became one of the FBI's Most Wanted fugitives. He was finally apprehended in October 1960 in Vancouver.

5. Frank Sinatra, Jr.

In 1963, Sinatra, Jr. was working on following in his dad's footsteps, and he was actually having some success as a 19-year-old. He was traveling and playing shows with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra until kidnappers feigned a package delivery and abducted the young singer from his room at a Harrah's in Lake Tahoe.

The three-man gang of kidnappers wasn't going to win any awards for their brilliance, and the whole kidnapping was fairly farcical. The gang didn't have enough money for gas as they were ferreting Sinatra to their hideout in Burbank, California, so they had to borrow some cash from their hostage. Sinatra's father called a press conference and offered a million dollars for his son's return, but apparently the gang missed the message. When they called the elder Sinatra, they only asked for $240,000 in ransom.

Sinatra, Sr. paid them, and they released Sinatra, Jr. on the side of the road after two days of captivity. Once the boy got home, he was able to help investigators track the kidnappers by remembering what restaurants the food he'd been given came from and how many planes had flown over the safe house where he'd been held. Of course, the bumbling kidnappers didn't need any help getting caught. One of them, John Irwin, got so flustered that he confessed the whole thing to his brother, who talked Irwin into calling the police. Irwin then gave the police the scoop on his two accomplices, and all three spent time in jail.

7 Historic European Castles Virtually Rebuilt Before Your Very Eyes

A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
A reconstruction of Spiš Castle in eastern Slovakia.
Budget Direct

While some centuries-old castles are still standing tall, others haven’t withstood the ravages of time, war, or natural disaster quite as well. To give you an idea of what once was, Australia-based insurance company Budget Direct has digitally reconstructed seven of them for its blog, Simply Savvy.

Watch below as ruins across Europe transform back into the formidable forts and turreted castles they used to be, courtesy of a little modern-day magic we call GIF technology.

1. Samobor Castle // Samobor, Croatia

samobor castle
Samobor Castle in Samobor, Croatia
Budget Direct

The only remaining piece of the 13th-century castle built by Bohemia’s King Ottokar II is the base of the guard tower—the rest of the ruins are from an expansion that happened about 300 years later. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Croatian city of Samobor, which bought the property in 1902.

2. Château Gaillard // Les Andelys, France

Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Château Gaillard in Les Andelys, France
Budget Direct

King Richard I of England built Château Gaillard in just two years during the late 12th century as a fortress to protect the Duchy of Normandy, which belonged to England at the time, from French invasion. It didn’t last very long—France’s King Philip II captured it six years later.

3. Dunnottar Castle // Stonehaven, Scotland

Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland
Budget Direct

Dunnottar Castle overlooks the North Sea and is perhaps best known as the fortress that William Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson in 1995’s Braveheart) and Scottish forces won back from English occupation in 1297. Later, it became the place where the Scottish monarchy stored their crown jewels, which were smuggled to safety when Oliver Cromwell invaded during the 17th century.

4. Menlo Castle // Galway City, Ireland

Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Menlo Castle in Galway City, Ireland
Budget Direct

This ivy-covered Irish castle was built during the 16th century and all but destroyed in a fire in 1910. For those few centuries, it was home to the Blake family, English nobles who owned property all over the region.

5. Olsztyn Castle // Olsztyn, Poland

Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Olsztyn Castle in Olsztyn, Poland
Budget Direct

The earliest known mention of Olsztyn Castle was in 1306, so we know it was constructed some time before then and expanded later that century by King Casimir III of Poland. It was severely damaged during wars with Sweden in the 17th and 18th centuries, but its highest tower—once a prison—still stands.

6. Spiš Castle // Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia

Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Spiš Castle in Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia
Budget Direct

Slovakia’s massive Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century to mark the boundary of the Hungarian kingdom and fell to ruin after a fire in 1780. However, 20th-century restoration efforts helped fortify the remaining rooms, and it was even used as a filming location for parts of 1996’s DragonHeart.

7. Poenari Castle // Valachia, Romania

Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Poenari Castle in Valachia, Romania
Budget Direct

This 13th-century Romanian castle boasts one previous resident of some celebrity: Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracula, who may have been an early influence for Bram Stoker’s vampire, Dracula. It also boasts a staggering 1480 stone steps, which you can still climb today.

[h/t Simply Savvy]

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

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