Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Frank Sinatra, Jr. Kidnapping

The Setup

"I started casting about for ways to solve my economic crisis, and I started thinking about ways to make money illegally," Keenan told L.A. Weekly writer Peter Gilstrap in 1998. "I didn't know how to deal dope, bank robbery didn't make much sense, so I hit on the idea that you could raise a lot of money in a kidnapping.

Dean Torrence
Dean Torrence

"In my thinking and the way I would talk about it, it was like a stock offering... and I didn't see it as a crime. Intellectually, I knew it was a crime, but emotionally I was working very hard to rationalize it, to make it an OK deal."

He was brimming with enthusiasm by the time he paid a visit to his high school friend Dean Torrence.

He explained that he had a get-rich plan. All he needed was $5,000 in seed money to make it happen.

Torrence asked for details, and Keenan earnestly explained that he was planning "the perfect crime": a celebrity kidnapping. He said he had considered snatching Bob Hope's adopted son, Tony, before settling on Frank Sinatra, Jr.

Tony Hope
Tony Hope

"I decided upon Junior because Frank, Sr. was tough," said Keenan, "and I knew Frank always got his way. It wouldn't be morally wrong to put him through a few hours of grief worrying about his son."

Keenan said the kidnapping would net him $100,000, which he would parlay into a million within 10 years through clever investment. He would then discreetly repay Sinatra the ransom.

If Torrence thought his friend was nuts, he didn't say so at the time. He wouldn't spring for $5,000, but he gave him $500.

And with a flush wallet, Keenan went about executing his business plan.