A century ago, on March 17, 1909, an 8-year-old boy named William Whitla, commonly called Billy, was kidnapped in Sharon, Pa. A man called his school and told the teacher that Billy's father had sent him to take Billy home due to a family emergency.
Mr. Whitla was a businessman but not wealthy, although a brother-in-law was an attorney and was considered to be wealthy. The kidnappers demanded $10,000 ransom, which Mr. Whitla paid according to instructions mailed to him. He was ordered to follow a complicated set of instructions leading from town to town in northeast Ohio. Once the money was delivered, the boy was put on a city streetcar with instructions to run around public square and back out Euclid Avenue before stopping at a hotel.