Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eddie Cudahy and Pat Crowe

The Ransom Note

When Eddie Cudahy had not turned up by the following morning, bosses closed the Cudahy plant and encouraged its 2,000 employees to join in the search for the boy. Other meat plants did the same out of respect for their competitor, and soon some 7,000 men and women were tramping the dusty streets and back alleys of Omaha looking for the Cudahy scion.

The World-Herald set up the crime with a catty thumbnail sketch of the victim:

Edward Cudahy Jr., the narrator of this story, is a young man with a pale and rather delicate face. While tall, his physique is by no means a strong one. He has the reputation of being very much of a boy. He smokes a little, reads dime novels occasionally, and is fond of gaiety. He has always been liberally supplied with money and has not hesitated to contract debts that would open the eyes of the average poor boy as wide as saucers.

At 9 a.m., the Cudahys received a telephone call.

A man said, Have you looked in the front yard for a letter?

No, Cudahy replied.

Do so at once and you will find one.

Cudahy sent a coachman, Andrew Gray, to search the yard. He came back with the stick that had been thrown onto the Cudahy property from the buggy.

Mrs Joseph Cudahy reading letter
Mrs Joseph Cudahy reading letter

Attached was a note written in pencil on brown parcel-wrapping paper. It began:

Mr. Cudahy: We have kidnapped your child and demand $25,000 for his safe return. If you give us the money he will return as safe as when you last saw him, but if you refuse, we will put acid in his eyes and blind him.

The note continued with a number of threats, followed by these instructions:

Get the money all in gold, 5, 10 and 20 (dollar) pieces... Get in your buggy alone on the night of December 19 at 7 oclock p.m. Follow the paved road toward Fremont. When you come to a the side of the road, place the money by the lantern and immediately turn your horse around and return home.

Cudahy kidnapper note
Cudahy kidnapper note
Omaha Chief of Detectives Henry Savage learned that the call to the Cudahy home had been placed from Glynns Livery Stable. Cops hurried there and learned that the caller, a stranger at the stable, had ridden off on a leased bay pony.

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