That’s how Idaho Lieutenant Governor W.B. Kinne started the story about his abduction when talking to an Associated Press reporter in June 1929. Kinne, who had been elected the year before, was a well-to-do businessman from Orofino, so kidnapping for ransom came to the minds of officials when they discovered he was missing. Governor Baldridge considered calling out the National Guard to search for Kinne, but the incident was over before he could make that move.
It turned out the abductors weren’t carrying out a ransom scheme. They had no idea who Kinne was when they commandeered his car. They just needed a car. They probably took Kinne with them only to keep him from reporting the car theft.
As the lieutenant governor told the story the men forced him into the back of the car and onto the floor, one of them getting behind the wheel and driving on at a high rate of speed. That speed and a blown tire caused the car to hurtle off the road near Orofino and flip over. None of the men were badly hurt, but their newly acquired car was no longer a prize.
“The men forced me to walk out into a field, and as they did so another car pulled up,” Kene told reporters. “Two men, who I learned were W.L. Tribbey of the Idaho Building and Loan Association and Paul Kille, a lumber worker, got out of the car and as they walked toward us, the four men turned their guns on them. Kille was shot in the leg and clubbed over the head with guns until he went down. Tribbey was beaten badly.”
Now with three hostages the bandits piled into Tribbey’s car and raced off into the mountains. They found an isolated spot and tied the hostages to a tree. One of the bandits stood guard, while the remaining three drove off, only to return about four hours later without explanation.
The men took $14 from the wounded Kille, and $200 from Tribbey. They threatened the bound hostages with death and told them not to move for at least four hours. Then, all four of the highwaymen drove off in the stolen car.
Tribbey ignored their threat and freed himself within about 15 minutes. He untied the others and they all set off on foot for the nearby town of Greer.
The harrowing story told by the victims set off a four-state manhunt for the car thieves.
The kidnappers were described as being between 18 and 25 years of age, armed, and “desperate.” Law enforcement was on the lookout for Tribbey’s blue sedan, plate number 249-060.
Citizens were outraged by the kidnappings. Every able-bodied man who could take off work in Nez Perce, Lewis, Latah, and Clearwater counties joined the search. Indian trackers and Boy Scouts joined farmers and loggers. Bloodhounds were flown in from Yakima.
For two days thousands of men searched for the four assailants, checking cars at intersections, and looking into outbuildings. Nothing turned up. Then early in the morning, Friday, June 14, Latah County Deputy Miles Pierce spotted two men asleep in undergrowth along the railroad tracks near Juliaetta. Those men woke to find a shotgun in their faces.
We’ll continue the story in tomorrow’s Speaking of Idaho post.