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KN, p. 296 “Kidnapping”

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Kidnapping: “Moving another person a distance by force or fear without the person’s consent.”

I was a kid the first time I heard the term ‘kidnapping.’ A multi-million dollar ransom demand for the safe return of the adult son of a wealthy man had been splashed all over the news. I was horrified that anyone would be mean enough to kidnap anyone, then ask for money not to harm them.


In fact, kidnappings have been committed for centuries. Conquering armies enslaved the conquered to serve in the armies, or to work as domestics for the people back home. In the day of King Richard the Lionhearted, royalty on the losing side in war would be taken from the battlefield and ransomed for enormous sums. Hence the term: king’s ransom. Unscrupulous ship captains conscripted men off the streets to serve on long ocean voyages for no pay.


In the 20th and 21st centuries, ‘kidnappings’ have become frequent enough that they now fall into four categories under the term aggravated kidnapping.

1) kidnapping that causes the victim serious bodily harm or death;

2) kidnapping that involves a demand for a ransom;

3) kidnapping taking place concurrent with a carjacking; and

4) kidnapping based on fraud, force, or fear of a victim who is under age fourteen.


Kidnapping by parents is in another category altogether, since generally, the parents are in the middle of custody fights and no harm is meant toward the child.

Make no mistake about it: both kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping are serious crimes with huge punishment if a conviction is reached. If guns are used, or somebody gets beaten up during the commission of an aggravated kidnapping, the sentence served can be over ten years.  

Revolutionary groups and/or terrorists have employed kidnapping as a way to raise money for their causes. But, all countries look unfavorably on this practice and if caught and convicted, the criminals face time in jail or death by execution.

One of the most famous kidnappings in the 20th century was that of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son, in March, 1932. Ransom notes were delivered, with increasingly higher demands for money. Law enforcement tracked multiple leads, but tragically, the child’s body was found on the side of the road in May, 1932. It became a federal case as pursuit of the kidnapper(s) intensified. It took two years to find the man responsible, another two years to convict and carry out the sentence – death by electrocution. The Lindbergh case resulted in laws that introduced the death penalty for taking a kidnap victim across state lines.

This FBI article relates details of the case:

According to FBI stats, there were over 29,000 active missing person records involving children under the age of 18 at the end of 2021. How do we guard against our children getting snatched? There are a few basic steps to take (suggested by a private investigation firm with offices in Florida, New Jersey, and New York City) that can help keep your child safe:

Cyber Safety
Children now share their lives online, and the downside of all that socialization is that they might be lured by dangerous people to meet in the real world. As long as they live under your roof, you should check to see what they are up to online. Both computer and phone activities should be age appropriate and time-limited. You’re the parent. You’re in charge.

The Check-First Rule
All children should be taught to check with parents first before going anywhere. Period.

Stay aware
Stay off the phone when you are out and about with your children, so that you can be alert to any strangers taking unusual interest in them. In case you get separated in a crowd, children should know their address, parents’ names, and phone numbers by heart.

Ways to React When an Abduction is Attempted
If someone is attempting to forcibly take them somewhere, children need to know how to react if you’re not there. Teach your kids to scream “Call 9-1-1!” or “Call a cop!” One suggestion: They could start spinning their arms around like a windmill, making it harder to grab them. Another suggestion: Give your child a whistle to blow, to scare off anyone trying to avoid attention.

Teach Kids To Spot the Trusted Adults
If someone is bothering your child, and you’re not there, they should look for a security guard, an employee with a name tag, a police officer, or a mom with her own children in tow.

Talk to Your Children
You can help prevent an outsider from taking advantage of your child’s vulnerabilities by letting them know that you’re always ready to listen. Talk to them every day about their day. Be an active part of their lives.

Get to know your neighbors. Be alert to unknown people that keep driving through the neighborhood. In this era of GPS maps, it’s really hard to get lost, and children should never give directions to strangers.

*Photo of the Lindbergh flyer from the FBI files.



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KN, p. 293 “Europol”


The internet bombards us with more information about the other side of the planet than we could ever have imagined even 20 years ago. TV and computers now stream live events as they happen, instead of via delayed taping or recording days or weeks later as was the norm during the last century. But, with that immediacy of global sharing also comes the ability to commit crimes in new and more heinous ways.

Bank fraud can now occur through cyber crime, with fraudulent cryptocurrency transactions as the shiny new way of scamming the unsuspecting.

Instead of drug deals happening on street corners and alleyways, international transport of shipping containers full of illegal drugs (and legal goods in short supply transported illegally) plague the harbor masters at entry ports of each major country.

Global unrest due to political or natural disasters cause people to attempt emigration to safer places, giving rise to illegal immigration attempts. Human traffickers take advantage of the young people eager to cross borders without the means to do so legally, then sell those people into slavery or worse.

Across the globe, law enforcement is tasked to stem local crime, provide a safe environment for its own population, and enforce the laws on the books. But, when criminals seek to commit their crimes in another region in an effort to slow down pursuit or prevent investigation into their criminal acts, law enforcement in each jurisdiction usually has to find a way to work together in order to catch the bad guys. This is not always easy. Big cities have different methods than small communities do; federal, state, and local regulations may be at odds with each other, and resources are not easily shared.

There have been a few TV shows featuring international law enforcement groups – a current show is FBI International. That show highlights the difficulty facing agencies battling crimes that cross international borders. Europol is one of those real-life agencies. 

Through Europol, the European Union, (a group of countries -presently 27- agreeing to work together in large part for economic reasons) addresses crime that crosses borders. “Our main goal is to achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all the EU citizens.” *

Europol was officially established in 1995 to fight international drug trafficking and organized crime. It has operated out of The Hague (seat of government in the Netherlands) ever since. The Directors have come from various countries within the EU.

Forensic science is a big part of any law enforcement support system. When needed, Europol investigators are able to collect evidence at international (Eurozone) crime scenes and send it on to the lab. It is sorted and analyzed by qualified scientists who apply the latest scientific methods during processing. Law enforcement agencies across the EU can call on this assistance for the crimes that cross borders.


Europol helps fight these crimes:

  • Euro counterfeiting – by determining the source of equipment and supplies needed to manufacture illegal Euro dollars.
  • Illicit drug production – by helping to destroy illegal production sites, seize illegal drugs, stop illegal synthetic drug production, and to collect evidence in EU Member States.
  • Payment card fraud – by seeking and prosecuting the criminal organizations behind credit card cloning and counterfeiting, and their tampering with credit card readers and machines.
  • Terrorism – by providing immediate on-site information sharing and evaluation support for investigations into terrorist attacks, in or out of the EU.
  • Cybercrime – by providing a centralized, united response to crimes committed online affecting EU member states.
        • Financial
        • Infrastructure (i.e. power or water related)
        • Child online porn
        • Information systems

Part of Europol’s mission is not just to show up to assist local authorities, but also to train the regional law enforcement groups to better handle their own investigations – with more knowledge, a higher level of investigations can improve results.


Europol provides training to law enforcement personnel both in and out of the Eurozone. Connections made between officers from a variety of countries can only improve cooperation throughout the continent in order to more effectively combat criminal enterprises.


 *quote from the Europol website



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KN, p. 292 “Vicksburg and the Civil War”

In January of 1861, spurred by deep political and societal differences, Mississippi became the second State to secede from the Union. Soon after, Mississippi combined with others to form the Confederate States of America. In April of that year, the Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, and the Civil War was truly underway.

Strategically located at a bend in the Mississippi River, Vicksburg was recognized by both President Abraham Lincoln (Union) and President Jefferson Davis (Confederate) as a key to ending the War Between the States. In 1862, Vicksburg was vital to the supply of deliveries for the South, providing food, etc. to the neighboring States. Lincoln knew that Federal control of the Mississippi would provide a lifeline to the Northern supply lines as well, while cutting off half of the Southern States, for both the military and civilians.

Confederate General Pemberton was in charge of the military presence in the Vicksburg area and was ordered to hold the river and surrounding countryside at all costs. Union General Grant was tasked with taking control of the southern section of the Mississippi (Cairo, IL, and southward). Pemberton, motivated by duty and allegiance to the Confederate cause, was fully aware of the Vicksburg geographical advantages and was determined to mount a great defense. With swamps and bayous on one front, 170+ cannon overlooking the river approaches, and 50,000 Confederate troops scattered throughout the region, he was sure that he would prevail.

Left: Pemberton, Right: Grant

But, Grant was relentless. By October, 1862, his armies had secured the Mississippi south of Cairo, IL, and up from the Gulf, with only Port Hudson, LA, and Vicksburg, MS still under Confederate control. Vicksburg was the stronger of the two, so Grant focused his efforts on it.

Naval warfare took on a new look during the Civil War. In December, 1862, the U.S.S. Cairo (one of the Union’s first ironclad ships) was assigned to unblock the rivers of obstructions near Vicksburg and disable the batteries as well. But the Confederate forces weren’t just blocking the rivers with debris. They placed mines in strategic locations. The Cairo came to a quick end, sunk by two mines that ripped holes in the hull. (Remarkably preserved under sand and mud, it was recovered in 1956 and sits in an open-air museum in Vicksburg National Park.)

USS Cairo, one of the first ironclad ships

Unable to defeat the formidable Vicksburg defense system, Grant resorted to a siege of the town. Cut off from any incoming supplies and constantly bombarded by Grant’s artillery, the civilians moved underground to caves beneath the houses, living there for weeks. Food was rationed, but ran out, the water was unsafe to drink, and living conditions were intolerable. After 47 days, Pemberton knew that the military and civilians under his protection would not survive the siege and he surrendered to Grant.

The damage in the Vicksburg region went beyond the physical destruction to the buildings and farms. After Pemberton’s surrender, the Union soldiers stayed around for another ten years, enforcing order amid the chaos of Reconstruction. 



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