On April 25, 1934, six-year-old June Robles left Roskruge school
to go to her cousin's house, as she normally did after school. She
Later that afternoon, her father, who didn't yet know she wasn't
where she should be, received a letter demanding $15,000 or little
June would die.
Other kidnappings were in the news at the same time, but this
was in Tucson, this was a little girl, a member of a prominent
family. Tucsonans started the search.
From the Arizona Daily Star, April 26, 1934:
In true western style, and with no Chicago flourishes, the
greatest manhunt ever staged in the west was in full swing late
last night — after the man or men who late yesterday abducted
little June Robles, 6-year-old granddaughter of Bernabe Robles,
wealthy Tucson pioneer, and held the child for $15,000 ransom.
Hundreds of men, officers, cattlemen friends of the rancher and
real estate owner, joined in the search for the child and her
kidnappers, to be followed by 300 American Legionnaires this
And kidnapping, the ugly word which has not inflamed southern
Arizona for over two years, spurred on the heavily armed groups of
officers and men, bent on a quick capture of the abductor and a
resuce from a threat of death if ransom was not paid, in the ransom
letter received by Fernando Robles, father of the tot.
The child was lured from Fifth street, adjacent to Roskruge
school, as she left an afternoon class yesterday to go with her
6-year-old cousin Barney Kengla, to his house around the corner.
Nearly two hours later the unsuspecting father received the
sinister printed letter with the awful news that the child had
vanished and the demand for $15,000 — or death to little June.
There were two witnesses to the kidnapping, June's cousin and
the mother of another student.
(June) was lured into a small car just after she left the
Roskruge school, where she is a kindergarten pupil, shortly after 3
o'clock yesterday afternoon. The little girl was on the way to the
house of her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Kengla, ... where
she was wont to visit until late afternoon, when called for by her
Accompanying her was her six-year-old cousin, Barney Kengla, and
one of the two apparent eye witnesses to the kidnapping. Young
Barney related that, as he hurried home, around the corner from the
school to commence the afternoon play with his little sister
Sylvia, June lagged behind. (Morgue Lady's note: Sylvia was
actually June's little sister, a fact noted elsewhere in the
reports.) Rounding the corner from Fifth street on to North Second
avenue, the boy said that he saw a man in a "little black car,
smaller than daddy's — maybe a little Ford" stop and call to June.
June walked over to the car, got in, and the car drove away, the
Mrs. Harold D. Smith, sister of Carlos Ronstadt, also saw the
kidnapping, although partially unaware of what was taking place.
Mrs. Smith was driving home from Roskruge after calling for her
child, saw a small car, a dilapidated sedan, stopped at the curb
and the man driver attempting to coax a little girl therein. Mrs.
Smith stated that a thought of kidnapping flashed through her mind,
but she dismissed it when her child asked her not to drive so slow,
but to hurry home.
The man, described by Mrs. Smith, was partially disguised with
large sunglasses, wore dark dirty clothing, and seemed very
emaciated, his clothes hanging on him. The child, Mrs. Smith said,
seemed to be refusing to enter the car, saying "No, no." But the
man seemed to be insisting, Mrs. Smith said.
The Robles family was apprised of the abduction of little June
shortly before 5 o'clock when the kidnap note was delivered to
Fernando Robles, father of the child, at the Robles Electric
company on North Church, which he owns. A small boy, Rosalio
Estrada, ... carried the note from the Fox theatre parking lot
across Church street to Robles' store. The boy told officers all he
knew of the affair was that a man, an American in dirty clothes,
paid him twenty-five cents to deliver the note and wait for and
return an answer.
From across the street Ray Orcutt, operator of the parking lot,
saw the man and boy come on to the lot from Congress street. The
man, standing between two parked cars, gave the boy directions, and
started him off; recalled him, gave him more directions and
something from his pocket, Orcutt reported. The boy then left and
walked across Church street to the Robles store.
As he did, Orcutt related, the man ran from the parking lot onto
Church street and north to Pennington, where he turned west onto
Pennington and disappeared. The boy told officers that the man had
ordered him to walk about the downtown streets, in the event that
he was not at the parking lot on his return from the Robles
The kidnapping evoked memories of a kidnapping two years
SAWYER KIDNAPPING CASE IS RECALLED
The kidnapping of the Robles child was the second time in
Tucson's history that the "snatch racket" invaded the city. The
first case was two years ago when Gordon Sawyer, vice-president of
the Southern Arizona bank was stolen from his home, late in the
evening. Sawyer was found, bound and gagged, at the bottom of an
abandoned well on the Adkins ranch the following day. A ransom of
$60,000 had been asked.
After a gun fight with sheriff's depities, Clifford Adkins was
arrested and later tried and convicted for the crime. He was
sentenced by Judge C. C. Faires to life imprisonment in the state
penitentiary where he is now.
Carlos Robles, uncle of the missing child, was co-prosecutor of
Adkins in his capacity as assistant county attorney of Pima