Follow the Money

For two and a half days, Tony held his own sister hostage, demanding that he be paid for nearly a decade’s worth of work in the family-owned trailer park. He eventually released her when the family agreed to pay him half of the trailer park’s value. Tony then used this money to buy the 17 acres at the heart of his dispute with the Halls and Meridian Mortgage.

The video here comes from another good friend of the film, Linda Lupear. She was one of our earliest contacts in the filmmaking process and provided us with this great footage.

Linda is an important figure in Indiana journalism. She was among the first wave of women reporters that would become more prominent in the Midwest markets throughout the ‘70s. Reporting for local TV station WRTV, Lupear covered the trial, and as you’ll see in the video, she delivered a summary report on one of the most intriguing parts of the Kiritsis case, the major events in his life that had led him to kidnap Hall. 


Kiritsis Wasn’t the Only One: The Hostage-Taking Wave of 1977

Though the Kiritsis incident was unique for Indianapolis, it was by no means isolated. Today’s post highlights an ABC News report from July 5, 1977 just one day after Luis Robinson took two dozen people hostage on a bus in New York, killing two when they tried to disarm him and throw him from the bus.

From Kiritsis on February 8, 1977 to Robinson on July 4, there were at least five cases in the U.S. where armed assailants held hostages for some period of time while trying to negotiate with law enforcement.

The ABC News report includes an interview with NYPD Chief Hostage Negotiator Lt. Frank Bolz. He described how he assesses the emotional state of hostage takers in much the same way as FBI Special Agent Patrick Mullaney did during the Kiritsis incident. Bolz pointed out just how critical building trust is during negotiations, flatly stating that you don’t lie and you don’t promise things you can’t or won’t deliver. Bolz said, “You have to level with [the hostage taker] to that degree that whatever you tell him, you should be truthful.”

Patrick Mullaney certainly believed in this philosophy. WIBC news anchor Fred Heckman did too. As the primary negotiator in the standoff, Heckman proved his trustworthiness time and time again as he grappled with Kiritsis on the air.

However, not everyone felt the same. As you’ll see in the film, the deputy prosecutors who were handling the negotiations offered an immunity agreement that they had no intention of honoring. Tony’s criminal defense attorney at the time, Jack Ruckelshaus, asked Deputy Prosecutor David Rimstidt point-blank if he would uphold the agreement, and Rimstidt lied, saying the Prosecutor’s Office would.

Imagine if Tony had pressed Ruckelshaus to be absolutely certain about the validity of the offer, and imagine if Rimstidt had either intentionally or unintentionally revealed his true intentions. Ruckelshaus made it very clear that he would not withhold information from his client, and the moment he told Tony, trust in the negotiations would be shattered, perhaps permanently.

Fortunately, Rimstidt’s gamble worked. Nobody died. That’s where we’ll leave it.


Curious about where Tony Kiritsis got the idea for his version of the dead man's line? Watch the video to find out.