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  1. #1
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    Ransom

    Suppose the ransom demands were not crank calls. This could mean that the girls' abduction was premeditated. Are there any other known cases where the perpetrator stalked or pre-selected a child victim?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mere
    Suppose the ransom demands were not crank calls. This could mean that the girls' abduction was premeditated. Are there any other known cases where the perpetrator stalked or pre-selected a child victim?
    Certainly there are some, although they are rare here in the US. Frank Sinatra's son was abducted and held for ransom back in the mid 1960's. Also, the Getty boy was abducted and his ear cut off before ransom was paid. There was also the abduction of the heir to the Coors Beer fortune. These were high visability crimes and they were aimed at people with a lot of money.

    The Lyon girls were daughters of John and Mary Lyon, who were by most accounts your normal middle class family, who lived in a small house in a nice suburban neighborhood. John Lyon was an announcer on WMAL radio (AM 630 in Washington DC), so he was heard by many, but was not a big name "star". Probably as a result of his popularity and the fact that WMAL commanded such an audience (they also had connections with the papers and TV stations), this case got a LOT of press in the Washington Metropolitan area.

    I do not have all of the information about each and every "ransom" call, but police were pretty quick to weed out what they felt were crank calls. Some were kids calling the Lyon home. There was one which they took seriously, and they played along. John Lyon spoke with the caller at least two separate times, and delivered a briefcase to the specified place, but no person came for it, and it became apparent for some reason that this too was a scam or crank caller.

    Probably the reason for the crank calls was the fact that the case was so much in the news. If this had been a true case of abduction for ransom, the callers would probably have made contact much earlier - probably soon after the abduction took place, rather than waiting for the papers and media to pick up on the story.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Richard for the additional information about the crank calls and cases of extortion. In my opinion I feel that TRM is the most likely scenario. Another scenario I have thought about would be that the abductor may have known the Lyon family and the abduction of the girls was some kind of revenge. I know that John Lyon has lived a fairly public life, being in radio and having his own band.Could it be possible that he made some sort of enemy? I just wonder being that this case has been open for over 30 years how many avenues the investigation has taken.

  4. #4
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    "ransom calls"

    In a highly publicised child disappearance case, like that of the Lyon sisters, police ask for public assistance and tips. Along with the callers who actually have (or believe that they might have) information which helps provide clues, there are also other callers who simply want to express their sympathy, well wishes, or want to ask questions. At another level, are those people who make "crank calls" simply to harrass or bother either the police or the victims. Some of those crank callers might mention that they have the child and that they want some form of ransom to be paid. There are, of course, rare instances where a kidnapper actually does make a ransom demand.

    It is of great importance to make proper decisions regarding any phone-in tips, so that clues are not missed. One example might be seen during the Montgomery County/DC Metro Sniper case, when one of the snipers actually called police with such a bizzare message that he was considered a "crank caller".

    It would be interesting to know if any proven or confessed serial killers had also been "callers" to the police or families of their victims shortly after an abduction. Or specifically, in the case of the Lyon sisters, if something like that might have been a possibility. It is common for convicted criminals to try to contact victims or their families while they are in prison, or for them to play games with police. Could the abductor possibly have made crank calls to the Lyon family or to police in 1975?

  5. #5
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    I'm a big Jon Douglas fan, and in one of his books, he discusses child kidnappings at length. The ransom demand is probably unrelated to the case because according to Douglas, generally speaking, there are three kinds of strangers who kidnap kids (not counting family abductions): sexual predators, childless people who can't adopt (and probably have some mental problems), and genuine ransom cases. The first two want nothing to do with the parents of the kids and will never communicate with them, and in the third case, the ransom demands will be very persistent because it's the money they want.And, as Thrasher points out in another thread in this section, it's unlikely that someone genuinely interested in collecting ransom would ask for it to be delivered to a courthouse bathroom, since there would be police everywhere and most courthouses are designed with limited escape routes.

  6. #6
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    The ransom demands...

    Quote Originally Posted by jttnewguy
    I'm a big Jon Douglas fan, and in one of his books, he discusses child kidnappings at length. The ransom demand is probably unrelated to the case because according to Douglas, generally speaking, there are three kinds of strangers who kidnap kids (not counting family abductions): sexual predators, childless people who can't adopt (and probably have some mental problems), and genuine ransom cases. The first two want nothing to do with the parents of the kids and will never communicate with them, and in the third case, the ransom demands will be very persistent because it's the money they want.And, as Thrasher points out in another thread in this section, it's unlikely that someone genuinely interested in collecting ransom would ask for it to be delivered to a courthouse bathroom, since there would be police everywhere and most courthouses are designed with limited escape routes.
    Welcome to the discussions. You make some very good observations and points.

    I would tend to agree with you and Mr. Douglas overall, with the exception that there DO seem to be some perverts who actually enjoy taunting the families of their victims. And there are some abductors who enjoy visiting the scene of the crime, participate in searches, and even visit graves of their victims.

    There are many more weirdos who like to "get into the act" after a publicized disappearance. These folks are the crank callers, providers of false leads, and those demanding "ransoms". I believe that one of the latter was responsible for the ransom calls to John Lyon. Police and Mr. Lyon played along with the caller and followed his directions regarding a drop place at the Ann Arundel County Courthouse (Annapolis, MD).

    You are absolutely correct about police and security being present at all times in the courthouse. It was a dumb place to request for a ransom drop due to all the stated reasons, and John Lyon even said that to him when the ransom caller spoke with him by phone later that same day. Perhaps the ransom call was not actually meant to extract money, but rather a way of playing with the Lyon family. The Courthouse may have been simply a place near where the caller worked - a place where he could watch the excitement.

    After John Lyon's last conversation with him, the "Ransom Caller" never again attempted any contact. It would be interesting to know if any tape recordings were made of those conversations, or if the calls were traced in any way.

  7. #7
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    Ransom

    I believe that the Annapolis incident was nothing more than a desparate hope.
    No one has posted for a while, so I will offer this comment:

    As I pointed out before, the Lyons did not have the resources to pay the ransom demanded, and he didn't have anywhere near that amount when he went to Annapolis. I talked to John about it once and I don't think he was hopeful, but at the time there were no other good leads and it was worth a try. It is hard to know whether the caller actually was trying to pick up the ransom money, but if he had any intelligence at all he had to know that Montgomery County Police would be there, in addition to all the police officers and marshalls who would be at the courthouse at any time. I don't think John felt there was any risk in getting angry at the caller, because he was convinced it was a hoax.

    Once again - for a kidnapper to make money, the best strategy would be to (1) abduct one child, (2) from a wealthy family, (3) at an isolated location, (4) call for ransom immediately, and (5) arrange the drop at an isolated location. This caller missed on all five, and the few other ransom attempts missed on at least three.

  8. #8
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    Ransom Hoax?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrasher
    I believe that the Annapolis incident was nothing more than a desparate hope. ... I don't think John felt there was any risk in getting angry at the caller, because he was convinced it was a hoax. ...
    I agree with your assessment of this Ransom story, in that it was most likely a hoax. With no solid information or evidence, the Ransom call was checked into, and police and family played along. It was not the police or the family that released the news of the call and ransom drop, but rather a news reporter who first broke the story, some days after it all took place. Since there had been no further contact with the caller at that point, the police went ahead and confirmed the details of the operation.

    Regarding the amount of money left in the briefcase at the Court House lavatory: Although the caller demanded $10,000, it was decided that $100 in marked bills would be in the briefcase, along with a lot of blank paper. The amount was chosen for legal reasons, as there was a law which stated that it would be a more serious crime if the amount was $100 or more. It was clearly the intent of the police to make an arrest immediately after the pick-up.

    No details regarding the actual kidnapping or the girls were ever given by the caller to confirm that he actually had them, or that he had any first hand knowledge of them.

  9. #9
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    Ransom Calls are still usolved...

    Although most investigators and observers of the Lyon Case tend to think that the various ransom calls and in particular the one calling for Ten Thousand Dollars to be left in the Anne Arundel County Courthouse, were either hoaxes or extortion plots, it should be remembered that they are still Unsolved Cold Cases as well. Nobody was ever identified, arrested, or charged with committing those offenses.

    Following the Court House stake-out, the Ransom Caller made one last phone call to John Lyon, complaining that there were too many police around for him to get the money. He said that he would call back with further instructions, but never did.

    This story was soon forgotten when news of the possible sighting of the girls, bound and gagged in the back of a tan 1968 Ford Station Wagon broke.

  10. #10
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    Crank Callers... The "Other" TRM

    While this thread was origionally established to discuss the one known "ransom demand" associated with the disappearance of the Lyon sisters, it should be noted that there were many other callers who professed to know something about the case, the TRM suspect, or other aspects of the situation.

    One such call came from a man who lived in Prince Georges County, Maryland. He told Montgomery County Police that he was the Tape Recorder Man whom a number of witnesses claimed to have seen in Iverson Mall and Marlow Heights Shopping Center. He denied adamantly, however, having ever appeared as TRM in Montgomery County.

    On 28 March 1975, a boy called "Jimmy" by police and news media reported that he and a friend had seen a man with a tape recorder, microphone, and briefcase talking to Sheila and Katherine Lyon at Wheaton Plaza (shortly before they disappeared). He assisted police in drawing a sketch of that unknown suspect.

    The sketch was released to the news media on 31 March 1975, and the public's assistance was requested to identify and locate the man.

    Quite a few people called in to police to state that they thought they knew the man and many called to state that they did not know him, but that they had seen him at various malls and shopping centers trying to talk to young girls with his tape recorder. All of these reported sightings took place PRIOR to 25 March 1975, and a man fitting TRM's general description and sketch was said to have been seen in both Montgomery County and adjacent Prince Georges County.

    It was never reported in the news media, but police have confirmed that some time after these reports of EARLIER TRM sightings, a man called them to say that he was the TRM seen in Prince Georges County, but that he was NOT the Montgomery County TRM. In fact, he had an alibi for the afternoon of 25 March 1975: He claimed to have been in an accident involving a Government Vehicle and there were police and hospital records to back up his alibi.

    The man was never charged with anything and not long afterward, most mention of any TRM was dropped from police news releases. The sketch of TRM was widely distributed in April 1975, but not afterward.

    Was this a case of an abductor copying someone that he saw using a tape recorder? Or of a BIG coincidence of TWO Tape Recorder Men just happening to be plying their trade in adjacent Maryland Counties?

    Or was it actually a case of this guy falsely "confessing" to be part of the story? It should be noted that the earliest reported appearance of a TRM was in Mid February 1975 at White Oak Shopping Center (Montgomery County), and the next two were sightings of a TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 28 February 1975, and the following day 1 March 1975. So this "TRM number 2" would have appeared between all the Montgomery county sightings.

    Did police refrain from releasing this information to the news media because they actually believed the guy and wanted to protect his privacy? If they thought his story plausable, why didn't they show his photo to all of the TRM witnesses to try to narrow things down?


  11. #11
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    Richard...

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post

    Did police refrain from releasing this information to the news media because they actually believed the guy and wanted to protect his privacy? If they thought his story plausable, why didn't they show his photo to all of the TRM witnesses to try to narrow things down?
    As far as the ransom calls go, just the fact of the court house drop off makes it seem like a hoax to me.

    Richard, do we know that LE didn't show TRM2's photo to the TRM witnesses? You really would think that they would. I don't know what to think about this guy. Given his alibi,it seems like he was falsely connfessing to be part of the story as you've said. I don't know, he bothers me so much. Let's say he has a wife and kids,wouldn't he be worried that his wife would find out from LE that he was hanging out at malls talking to kids? What would his parents and friends/coworkers think? It seems like a big risk to take just be apart of this,but he did have an alibi. I can't believe that it could be true that he really was doing this at the same time as someone else,unless he saw TRM as you mentioned and used his idea. Ya know, pedos like to share photos, I wonder if they knew each other and TRM2 was covering for TRM knowing that he wouldn't be a suspect due to his alibi? Maybe just trying to shake up LE a little. Is it possible that TRM2 knows who we are looking for?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motherof5 View Post
    As far as the ransom calls go, just the fact of the court house drop off makes it seem like a hoax to me.

    Richard, do we know that LE didn't show TRM2's photo to the TRM witnesses? ...
    I wonder if they knew each other and TRM2 was covering for TRM knowing that he wouldn't be a suspect due to his alibi? Maybe just trying to shake up LE a little. Is it possible that TRM2 knows who we are looking for?
    All good thoughts and possibilities. Police have said that the guy seemed very sincere about being the guy at Iverson Mall and Marlow Heights Shopping Center. (Those two malls are adjacent to eachother like one big mall). Police stated that he did have a family, and that he lived in the PG County area near the malls, and that he did not want his family or friends to know about his weird activities.

    The problem was that after releasing the first TRM sketch, and after witnesses were interviewed, the sketch was altered slightly. Was it altered based on statements and input from these PG County witnesses? I know of one witness who saw the TRM at Wheaton Plaza and reported his sighting, but he was never shown the photo of this PG TRM guy.

  13. #13
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    Richard......

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    The problem was that after releasing the first TRM sketch, and after witnesses were interviewed, the sketch was altered slightly. Was it altered based on statements and input from these PG County witnesses? I know of one witness who saw the TRM at Wheaton Plaza and reported his sighting, but he was never shown the photo of this PG TRM guy.
    So, do we know if LE showed a photo of the PG TRM to ANY of the witnesses? It's so frustrating,you would think that they would. Well, given PGTRM's alibi, it appears that we had 2 guys doing the same think at the same time. This would be kind of hard to believe unless you assume that maybe one of the men saw the ruse working and decided to try it also. That could very well be how we ended up with 2.

    Also,I thought that I read that PGTRM had told LE that he was just getting a female voice for his answering machine message. Am I remembering that right? I just think that is odd considering that his wife would hear that message.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motherof5 View Post
    So, do we know if LE showed a photo of the PG TRM to ANY of the witnesses? It's so frustrating,you would think that they would. Well, given PGTRM's alibi, it appears that we had 2 guys doing the same think at the same time. This would be kind of hard to believe unless you assume that maybe one of the men saw the ruse working and decided to try it also. That could very well be how we ended up with 2.

    Also,I thought that I read that PGTRM had told LE that he was just getting a female voice for his answering machine message. Am I remembering that right? I just think that is odd considering that his wife would hear that message.
    I wouldn't assume anything in regard to this story. One might think that the police would have done one thing or another, but I do not know in this case whether or not they showed the man's photo to anyone.

    Although it is certainly "possible" that there really was a 2nd TRM, I think it much more likely that this clown was simply muddying the waters with a false confession. In the end, only he would know the real reason that he came forward claiming to be TRM number 2.

    Regardless of whether or not there was a second pervert operating at the same time as the Wheaton Plaza TRM, it does not negate the fact that there was a real TRM working at and near Wheaton Plaza for about a month prior to the disappearance of Sheila and Katherine, and more significantly that such a person was seen talking to both girls shortly before their disappearance.

  15. #15
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    Red face Richard....

    Thanks,well said.I am inclined to agree with you as to the false confession,anything else would be so bizarre. I should probably move this discussion as this is the ransom thread. Sorry about that.

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