Stolen From the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper

Stolen From the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper

William Swanson

Language: English

Pages: 280

ISBN: 0873519930

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

On a July afternoon in 1972, two masked men waving guns abducted forty-nine-year-old Virginia Piper from the garden of her lakeside home in Orono, Minnesota. After her husband, a prominent investment banker, paid a $1 million ransom, an anonymous caller directed the FBI to a thickly wooded section of a northern Minnesota state park. There, two days after her nightmare began, Ginny Piper––chained to a tree, filthy and exhausted, but physically unharmed––awaited her rescuers. 
The intensely private couple lived through a media firestorm. Both Bobby and Ginny Piper herself—naturally reserved and surprisingly composed in the aftermath of her ordeal—were subject to FBI scrutiny in the largest kidnap-for-ransom case in bureau annals. When two career criminals were finally indicted five years after the abduction, the Pipers again took center stage in two long trials before a jury’s verdict made headlines across the nation. 
Drawing on closely held government documents and exclusive interviews with family members, investigators, suspects, lawyers, and others intimately connected to the case, William Swanson provides the first comprehensive account of the sensational Piper kidnapping and its long, eventful aftermath––and makes a case for the most plausible explanation for what really happened on that July afternoon. 

William Swanson is the author of Dial M: The Murder of Carol Thompson and Black White Blue: The Assassination of Patrolman Sackett. 











money that infuriated the young man to the point where he threatened revenge on Bobby and Ginny. The allegations, though dated, are specific enough for agents to give the young man a series of grillings. When they learn that the relative has made the FBI’s suspect list, the Pipers summarily dismiss the possibility of his involvement. But, unfortunately for the young man, the Pipers are not the keepers of the list. The Pipers did not, on July 27, 1972, have a home safe or a burglar alarm or any

know for sure if he had anything to do with it,” she says. “Of course, I wasn’t going to incriminate [Billstrom]. He was still alive.” (Alger will later testify for the government that he knows nothing about a kidnapping scheme and never heard Billstrom or any other member of the gang discuss a plan to abduct either Mr. or Mrs. Piper.) Two other defense witnesses, a Rochester bank teller named Esther Dahl and Paul Andersen, a Minneapolis druggist, cause unexpected problems for Meshbesher and

center of the government’s case. He sounds more perplexed than angry, discussing Ginny’s trial testimony and misidentification without apparent rancor. He does not seem surprised or disturbed when Harry tells him that his mother went to her grave believing that he and Larson were her captors. Callahan spent only three days in jail during the entire period, and that was right after his arrest, while family members scrambled to come up his $10,000 bail. Even after his conviction in the first

and he is talking about the last time someone did, in fact, appear out of nowhere with information he thought might crack the case. In the summer of 1999, he got a tip from someone (he is careful about using names) who said she had heard a woman talk with apparent inside knowledge about the kidnapping during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting ten years earlier. Harry’s source said the woman told her a long, meandering tale in which she, her ex-husband—who happened to be the stepson of one of the

Edwards Brothers Malloy in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Download sample