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Stejskal: The Losing Proposition of Kidnapping a GM Executives’ Son

Greg Stejskal was an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I was one of more than a dozen FBI agents assigned to surveillance on Braeburn Circle on Ann Arbor’s south side. After a few hours, agent Stan Lapekas, suggested we look in a Dumpster at the townhouse complex for possible evidence. The Dumpster was inside a wood fence enclosure in the parking lot, and we couldn’t be seen from the outside.

After only a few minutes, a car drove in and parked next to the gate. I peeked out and realized the driver was the man we were looking for — a suspect in the kidnapping of the son of a prominent General Motors executive.

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal

In 1975, my first year assigned to the FBI’s Detroit Division, Michigan had four kidnappings. The one everyone remembers is Jimmy Hoffa, a kidnapping/murder that remains unsolved. The other three were kidnappings for ransom.

Ransom kidnappings still happen frequently in areas where law enforcement is weak or corrupt, including parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. They were once common in the U.S., too. In Public Enemies, America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, Bryan Burrough writes that for some of the notorious gangs of the era, kidnapping was the crime of choice. John Dillinger’s gang specialized in bank robbery, but the Barker/Karpis gang preferred kidnapping. The two gangs were so successful at their respective specialties that Congress made bank robbery and kidnapping federal crimes, empowering the FBI to investigate them.


Bob Stempel

The 1932 statute that gives the FBI jurisdiction in kidnapping cases is called the “Lindbergh Law.” There was a proliferation of high-profile kidnappings in the U.S. during the 1930s, but none was more famous than the abduction of Charles Lindbergh Jr., the toddler son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, in May of that year.

Kidnapping for ransom, out of necessity, requires a victim who is of wealth or has some access to wealth. Not only were the Lindberghs rich, but  Charles may have been the most famous and beloved person in America at the time.

The Lindbergh baby was found dead after a ransom payment, and the crime took several years to solve. Tracking the cash finally led authorities to carpenter Bruno Richard Hauptmann. He was convicted in 1935 and executed a year later.

The Lindbergh Law relies on a presumption that any kidnapping involves interstate commerce. It is a rebuttable presumption, but allows the FBI to investigate a kidnapping without having to first establish some interstate aspect. And so it was that Stan Lapekas and I came to be hiding out by the Dumpster at University Townhouses in November 1975.

Four days earlier, 13-year-old Tim Stempel had been snatched in Bloomfield Township.

Tim was the son of Bob Stempel, a GM vice president on track to become CEO. Stempel received calls at home from the kidnappers, who wanted $150,000. They told him not to go to the police, but Stempel contacted GM security, who in turn contacted the police and the FBI.

Kidnapping a Rich Kid 

Tim had been kidnapped by Darryl Wilson and Clinton Williams, who had decided that a moneymaking project would be to grab a rich family’s kid and hold him for ransom.

They had no specific victim in mind when they drove to the high-income neighborhoods of Bloomfield Township. They passed on a few potential victims for various reasons — playing too close to a house, too young.

Then they spotted Tim Stempel skateboarding. Williams asked the teenager for directions to someone’s house. Tim said he didn’t know the person and started to walk away. Williams pulled a handgun and told him to get in the car.

The boy hit Williams with the skateboard, but Williams tackled him and struck him several times in the head. Williams and Wilson then blindfolded their victim and placed him in the backseat.

Read more »

Trump Stands to Profit Off Secret Service Lease at Trump Tower in NYC

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump stands to gain financially by having the Secret Service protect him and his family at Trump Tower in New York City.

The Secret Service is reportedly negotiating with his business to lease at least two floors of Trump Tower at a cost of about $3 million, the New York Post reports. 

If the deal works out as planned, the Secret Service would rent two floors to “run a 24/7 command post” and provide space for more than 250 Secret Service agents and New York Police Department officers.

Trump has come under criticism for trying to profit off his position as soon-to-be president.

FBI Arrests Suspect in Attack on 3 Starbucks Stores in Albuquerque

Suspect in vandalism of a Starbucks store in Albuquerque.

Suspect in vandalism of a Starbucks store in Albuquerque.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested a suspect accused of vandalizing three Starbucks stores and leaving behind suspicious devices, including one that detonated, early Friday in Albuquerque.

The suspect, who has not yet been identified, was arrested Saturday.

The ATF also is investigating.

The stores appear to have been struck with bullet holes, and glass doors were shattered.

“We heard gunshots go off. At least four rounds of gunshots go off, and then we heard a large explosion,” a witness who lives near the Starbucks in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill told KOAT-TV. “It was like a big flash — like, orange and white — just smoke everywhere.”

The explosive device that detonated caused minimal damage to a Starbucks in southeast Albuquerque.

Retired DEA Agent Writing Fiction Book, ‘Metal Coffins’ about Drug Cartels

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Mike Vigil retired from the DEA in 2014, he was an expert in cracking down on drug cartels in Central America.

Instead of quietly retiring, Vigil has used that experience to write a book, “Deal,” about his time with the DEA. Now Vigil is working his first book of fiction called “Metal Coffins.”

“It talks about two fictional cartels that are in conflict with one another,” Vigil told KRQE. “It talks about the typical corruption, the treacherous nature of these cartels and it also talks about the convergence.”

Vigil believes it’s still going to be a long time to defeat the cartels.

“So even if you take Chapo Guzman down and he’s extradited into the United States,” said Vigil. “The Sinaloa Cartel, because of that horizontal structure, will continue to remain one of the most powerful organizations in Mexico.”

Trump Considers Appointing Marine Gen. Kelly to Lead Homeland Security

Marine Gen. John Kelly

Marine Gen. John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump is considering Marine Gen. John Kelly as head of Homeland Security or secretary of state.

That’s significant because Trump became interested in Kelly after hearing about his hawkish views on the Mexican border, The Washington Times reports. 

What caught Trump’s attention was Kelly’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015, when he warned that smuggling routes along the border are vulnerable to terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.

“In my opinion, the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep also serves as another warning sign: These smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland,” Kelly said at the time.

Kelly is a four-star general who has been endorsed by fellow retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.

NTSB Recommends School Buses Use Seat Belts to Protect Children

school-busBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The National Transportation Safety Board is now acknowledging that children would be safer on school buses if they had seat belts.

Safety officials previously said seat belts aren’t necessary because the seats are tall, strong and closed spaced.

But after reviewing several deadly bus accidents, NTSB says the compartmentalization of the seats is no longer sufficient to protect children during side-impact collisions and rollovers, FOX23 reports. 

NTSB said seat belts would decrease the chances of injuries and could even save lives.

NTSB is recommending that school use three-point seat belts when buy new buses for students.

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime: Nixon Talks About Blacks and Jews As Spies Including the Rosenbergs

Secret Service May Rent Floor at Trump Tower to Protect the Trump Family

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President elect-Donald Trump and his family want to spend time at Trump Tower in New York, and that’s going to cost taxpayers some money, not to mention added inconvenience.

The US Secret Service is considering renting one floor in Trump Tower and turning it into a 24-7 command center to protect the family, CNN reports.

CNN reports that renting a floor could run about $1.5 million a year.

It’s been reported that Trump’s wife Melania  wants to stay in New York so their son, Barron, can continue attending his private school.