Tales from the Morgue: Kidnapped, Part 5

2010-08-23T00:00:00Z 2011-06-03T18:36:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Kidnapped, Part 5Johanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star
August 23, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Fourteen days after the kidnapping of six-year-old June Robles, her family still had no clue as to her whereabouts.

Then a suspect confessed. From the Arizona Daily Star, May 9, 1934:

 

KIDNAP SUSPECT CONFESSES
__________

U. S. CITIZEN IS HELD; TELLS OF ABDUCTING GIRL
__________

Center of Investigation Shifts to Below Mexican Line
__________

QUARTET IS INVOLVED
__________

Details of Statement Are Checked By Officers
__________

An American citizen, a former ex-convict, is being held in custody, but not under arrest as a suspect in the kidnaping of June Robles and a confession to authorities yesterday was said to have been written by this man.

The man is not in Tucson, but has been in custody for more than a week on the American side of the line. The "confession," among other things, said that June had been held in Santa Cruz, Sonora, four days ago. She was, the man said, in custody of a married couple who are Mexican citizens and a man who is an American. An immediate investigation showed that the couple was in Santa Cruz on the day in question. They were accompanied by a man and a child answering June's description, but the neighbors who knew the Mexican couple could not positively identify the man and girl.

It was a further statement by the man that sent the officials of Pima county, Tucson and the state highway patrol hurriedly to Cananea Monday night. The man gave the exact address at which it was supposed she could be found. Cananea police, at least some of them, are convinced that the girl was there, but that her captors escaped with her before the American posse arrived.

The people who have the child in custody were given a letter by the man under arrest. It was directed to a relative in Cananea who was instructed to take the child to Bernabe Robles, her grandfather and get the $15,000 ransom. He was then to take the money to them at Santa Cruz. If he did not do so within 12 hours, the Santa Cruz party was to go to him.

The descent of the posse on Cananea blocked this plan. The relative was arrested and taken to the Cananea jail, but only for a short time before the police were satisfied he knew nothing of the case and he was freed. He had not yet received the letter.

The man who is in custody, it is now known, was to have been the contact man until his arrest prevented his playing that role.

 

The following day it was revealed that a second ransom note was likely genuine. From the Star, May 10, 1934:

The presence in or near Tucson of another of the suspected kidnapers of six-year-old June Robles in addition to the self-styled "contact man" now detained by authorities was believed indicated tonight by acknowledgement as probably authentic of a second ransom note.

The communication, first reported Monday (ML note: that would have been May 7), was understood tonight tacitly to have been accepted by the family as assurance from the abductors June is still alive and will be delivered if contact arrangements can be made.

Contents of the note were not revealed definitely. It was reported it instructed that directions in the first note, delivered two hours after June disappeared two weeks ago, continue to be followed. . . .

The informer whose information resulted in the advance on Cananea — but too late if the persons seen there really were those sought — remained somewhere in southern Arizona, in personal technical custody of authorities who continued to check clues suggested by the written document in which, it was revealed today, he named himself as the "contact man," whose duty it was to have been to collect the $15,000 demanded from Fernando Robles, father of little June, and described parts played by others.

Speed Plan Fails

The original plan, as detailed, was to collect the ransom within 24 hours, the "contact man" then joining his confederates in Santa Cruz, Sonora, and proceeding to Cananea to leave the child, for return later to its parents, with an unsuspecting relative of the informer.

That was believed upset by the sudden and ferocious manhunt the kidnaping touched off in Tucson. He remained in Tucson as an observer then, it was believed, until, suspected, he was placed under restricted surveilance secretly a week ago, and information obtained from him used in efforts to track the gang.

It was not revealed in the documentary evidence authorities had which of the companions he named was assigned to the actual abduction of the child and delivery of the ransom note.

The man described by a small boy, who unwittingly delivered the first ransom note in exchange for 25 cents, was an American. The informer is a Mexican.

 

On May 11, the Star ran an article stating that Fernando Robles had not received a second note after all.

 

Two denials, one from J. E. P. Dunn, department of justice operative, and the other from Fernando Robles, heart-broken father of the missing six-year-old girl, of the report that a note from the baby's kidnapers had contained replies to questions asked by her father, last night returned the puzzle of the kidnaping to the list of unanswered questions.

Robles, when asked if his questions to his daughter, asked in his previously published appeal to the kidnapers, had been answered said:

"If there were such answers I do not know about them. If there were any such answers in any note, I did not see it."

 

Dunn once again offered amnesty to the kidnapers for the child's safe return. He and his department had eliminated all suspects and had no more leads.

Fernando Robles, June's father made another appeal, which ran in the Star May 11:

 

Text of Father's Second Plea for Return of Child
__________

TO THE PERSON OR PERSONS HAVING JUNE ROBLES:

There are two reasons why I have not been able to comply with all of your instructions and to make a contact. (1) I have worked hard ever since your note was received, trying to raise the $15,000, but I have been able to raise only $10,000, and it is impossible for me to raise more. (2) The condition upon which I was able to raise the $10,000 was that the money was not to be paid in the manner which you have outlined in your instructions.

In view of the above reasons, you can understand and appreciate the delay and my failure to contact you. I have had no way to let you know how difficult my problem has been.

I did not have the full amount of the money demanded and I have never been able to get the donors of the money to allow me to pay the ransom in accordance with your instructions. In this connection, I wish to state that the persons who have assisted me in securing the $10,000 have emphatically stated that the money must not be paid except upon the delivery of the child at the time of payment.

In view of this situation I request that you make a new contact with me and that you suggest any plan agreeable to you for the payment of the ransom and the safe return of June. The only suggestion which I would like to make with regards to the person whom you name as contact is that it be some individual who personally knows my daughter. This for the reason that I want to be sure at all times that I am dealing with the proper parties and not subjecting myself to hi-jacking.

I want to assure you that I propose to deal with you fairly and honestly and that there will be no double-crossing, no spies, no officers and no betrayment. If you will immediately make a contact and submit a satisfactory plan, I am ready to negotiate promptly with you in accordance with the conditions above named.

I have the assurance of all interested law enforcement agencies that I shall have a free hand in my negotiations with your contact man.

In order that I may not be interfered with in our negotiations and that I may have our daughter returned to us as speedily as possible, I am issuing the following appeal:

TO THE PEOPLE AND THE NEWSPAPERS OF THE UNTED STATES:

For more than two weeks I have been trying, with every means at my disposal, to locate our child and secure her safe return.

I have tried to the limit of my ability to meet every demand and follow the instructions received, when given a chance to do so unmolested.

To date I have received no positive assurance that she will be returned safely.

I am not unmindful of the great interest shown by the mothers and fathers of the country and appreciate deeply the sympathy that actuates this interest. However, sympathy and interest alone have not brought about the return of our child.

The situation created by this condition and the activity generated by the desire to inform the public of the progress being made, have made it impossible for me to continue negotiations and comply with the requests of those who hold our child. Unless this condition is changed I fear that I will never see our baby again.

I appeal to the public in general and the newspapers and the law enforcing agencies to discontinue activity which might interfere with my plans to secure the safe return of our baby.

FERNANDO A. ROBLES.

 

One might expect that this would be the beginning of a news blackout on the subject of the kidnapping until its resolution.

One would be wrong.

 

Next: Others were targeted by the kidnappers first.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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