Crime History: Vigilantes string up kidnappers

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

On this day, Nov. 26, in 1933, vigilantes in California lynched two men suspected of murdering the heir to a San Jose department store fortune.

Brooke Hart, 22, had been abducted two weeks earlier. His family received a $40,000 ransom demand, and soon after, a massive manhunt and some good breaks led to Thomas Thurmond and John Holmes. The men confessed to hitting Hart over the head with a piece of concrete and dropping his body into the San Francisco Bay.

The public, outraged at the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh's baby a year earlier, was crying for blood. Radio broadcasts called for their lynchings, and a mob broke into the jail and strung the suspects to trees.

Said Gov. James "Sunny Jim" Rolph afterward, "The best lesson ever given the country."

- Scott McCabe

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