Friday, May 16, 2008


Previously we have offered articles which came from magazines. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and look at the newspaper articles from Thief River Falls, Minnesota. You will find the articles repetitive. By the time all the articles are printed, you will remember many of the details. Old Trunks considered summarizing the many pages but think in order to get the feel for it and put you back in time to the play by play, one needs to read each of the articles. If you wish to read the accounts in a clump fashion, you are encouraged to be mindful of the dates. Keep in mind that readers in 1955 and 1956 were reading this in the local paper Wednesdays only, although newspapers across Minnesota and beyond may have had bits and pieces on a more frequent basis.

On Wednesday, November 16, 1955


Kenneth Lindbergh Missing Since Saturday Evening

No tangible trace has been found of Kenneth Lindbergh, cashier of the Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls, who is thought to have been abducted after his disappearance Saturday night. He was last seen talking with a stranger who had made an after hours appointment, reportedly to leave $25,000 in current see for safekeeping. Also reported missing from the bank is $1,750 silver coin, and $14,000 into negotiable travelers checks.

Under the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement agencies throughout the upper Midwest are running down every possible lead in attempting to solve the bizarre episode.
Pennington County Sheriff Art Rambeck said an audit of the bank’s records is in the making and until that has been completed, it will not be possible to arrive at definite conclusions. He said such an audit is routine procedure for banks insured by a federal agency. He denied any knowledge of a ransom note having been received.

Lindbergh told his wife that he had a call from Minneapolis that morning and would be meeting the caller at the bank later in the afternoon to go over details of a business transaction which the caller had spoken.
He also told George Werstlein, the bank’s vice president, of the call, adding that this Mr. Johnson had told him he would be bringing in $25,000 in currency which he wished to leave in the bank vault over the weekend. Mr. Werstlein also said that Lindbergh told him of the second call from the stranger, asking that he reserved two rooms for Herbert Johnson and his secretary, Miss Hadley who would arrive on the three o’clock p.m. on a North Central air flight.

This Lindbergh did, calling the Pennington Hotel according to Mrs. G. B. Heller, who is on the desk at the time, this request for rooms came from Mr. Lindbergh at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Four men displaned here of whom three, Dennis Knutson of Warren, Charlie Christiansen of Roseau, and E. H. Pomerenke of Goodridge were area residents. The other registered man on the flight was J. O’Malley. A man of the same name had registered on a Friday flight from Chicago in to Minneapolis.

George Rockstad, TRF resident, gave the man a lift from the airport dropping him at the Stewart Hotel. Fred Plotz, who was on duty at the Stewart Hotel at the time said a man had inquired about a reservation for Mr. Johnson, but he had none.

Mrs. Harry Winter at the Pennington Hotel said a man asked about a reservation there and told her that Miss Hadley had not come in, but they were to hold a room for her that she would arrive on Sunday or Monday.
The man was carrying a sort of light brown leather traveling bag and was of medium height and build, according to Mrs. Winter. She’s said that he told her he would register when his luggage came up. The stranger remained in the lobby for about 15 minutes, conversing with her on occasion. Then he asked where the Northern State Bank was and left the hotel.

Mr. Werstlein, said a man came to the bank shortly after 4 p.m. and that Mr. Lindbergh introduced him as Mr. Johnson, after which the two retired to a front office in the bank. They sat in the office conversing for nearly 2 hours he said, and that, when prepared to leave, he asked Mr. Lindbergh if he could be of any help; the latter answered in the negative.

On returning to his apartment from the post office about 15 minutes later, Mr. Werstlein called at the bank and again Mr. Lindbergh said everything was going well.
Next word from the missing Lindbergh was a call to his wife Violet from Detroit Lakes saying he had driven over there in his car to complete that deal. It was near midnight and he told her he’d be home in about four hours.

First word to the Sheriff’s office that something was amiss came about 1 p.m. Sunday. Mrs. Lindbergh had called Mr. Werstlein saying that her husband had been expecting to drive back from Detroit Lakes Saturday night and he was not yet arrived.

The timing mechanism on the safe containing the bank’s currency was on and he could not gain entrance to it. However, the dial, had been turned to the point where the tumblers fall, and Werstlein surmised that Lindbergh had possibly been ordered to open the safe; and had worked the combination to prove that it could not be opened because the time lock was on.

In addition to the silver, Bank of America and American Express travelers checks were missing totaling $14,000. These were in denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100.

Sheriff Rambeck said that the Highway Patrol had relayed a report from Ben Fuhrman, a farmer, living near Grand Rapids, Minnesota that Fuhrman had seen a car bearing a license number 9G42-- in that area Tuesday evening. The license number of Lindbergh’s car is 9G4213. It is a two-tone green 1951 Buick with a white side wall tires.

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