Sunday, September 14, 2008

Madeline Tobias Comes Home

The article below was published in the Joplin Globe on September 9, 1946. The headline read: “Abducted child reunited with mother, father.” It’s a feel-good story with a strange twist, but gives some insight into what was questionably a more innocent era. I’ve published the article in its entirety.

Terre Haute, Indiana, Sept 9, 1946 — A four-day search for 3-year-old Madeline Tobias ended when the brown-eyed little blonde was found in a humble home here today and she was restored this afternoon to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Tobias of Kansas City.

Shortly after Madeline was found police took into custody 22-year-old Mildred Louise Everett, a former inmate of the Ohio Girls' industrial school at Delaware, Ohio. FBI agents from Indianapolis took charge of the young woman and said a federal kidnapping charge had been filed against her in Kansas City.

Robert Vance, chief of detectives, said Mildred admitted taking the child from the Tobias home in which she had been employed as a maid and gave as her only excuse: "I loved the little girl and wanted her for my own."

Hitch-Hiked Rides

At Massilon, Ohio, Mildred's mother, said: "Mildred just loved children. She never had any of her own and that is probably why she took the Tobias child. She has never harmed any one, and I'm sure she would not."

Vance said little "Toby" apparently suffered no ill effects and no harm during the four days' absence from her home, although Mildred told of making the trip from Kansas City to Terre Haute by hitch-hiking and of sleeping one night in a fence corner.

This was the reunion scene: "Toby," freshly scrubbed at the Friendly Inn, a Terre Haute home for transients, was dressed in a pink pinafore provided by police. A pink ribbon was tied in her blonde tresses.

She was then taken to the office of Police Chief Forest Braden where she sat on the officer's desk, swinging her tiny feet.

Sped From Airport

The parents sped from the airport early this afternoon and were ushered into Braden's office.

Mrs. Tobias rushed to the desk and grabbed her daughter sobbing: "My baby, my baby. Are you all right? Are you all right?" "I am. They didn't beat me or slap me or anything," the child replied.

Then Mrs. Tobias sank into a chair. Meanwhile the father, beaming with joy, first patted the child and then comforted the distraught mother.

The family left Terre Haute in their chartered plane at 5:30 p. m. on the return trip to Kansas City.

Vance said the accused woman talked freely, describing herself as "one-eighth Creole" and telling of her incarceration in the Ohio industrial school; of two marriages, the first to her step-brother, John William Baker of Zoar, Ohio, and the second to Carl L. Taddley of Salina, Kansas. Neither marriage had been dissolved by divorce, Vance said the young woman told him.

Picture Led to "Break"

The "break" in the kidnapping case came this morning when Omer Funkhouser, who lives at the town of Barnhart near Terre Haute, walked into Chief Vance's office carrying a newspaper picture of Toby. "If I’m not mistaken this little girl has been at my home," he told Vance.

Officers took a look at the little girl and were convinced she was the missing child.

Funkhouser said he had been visiting his mother, Mrs. Mayme Fraizer, in Terre Haute Saturday. There was a little girl there he admired and a woman, who said she was the child's mother, offered to give the child away, saying she was unable to support it.

Funkhouser took the child to his home. He said the woman came to his home Sunday and sought to reclaim the child, but the little girl cried and the woman left.

Vance said that Mildred and "Toby" arrived in Terre Haute Friday night while the nation-wide search for the child was on.

Given Lodging

Vance said Mildred made application for assistance at the Goodwill Industries, a charitable institution, and was given overnight lodging by Mrs. Clova Moore. Mildred, through the institution, obtained employment as a housekeeper in the home of Ben Bailey, next door to the Frazier home. Bailey is the father of seven children, whose mother left home several weeks ago.

Vance said that after recovering Toby, officers went to the Bailey home and found Mildred there. They brought her to police headquarters and soon had her story.

Tobias, a former service man, with an overseas record, said he planned to return to Kansas City as soon as possible with his wife and child. He is employed by a mail company.

No comments: