On this day, Feb. 20, in 1974, the editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper was kidnapped.
William Williams lured the editor, Reg Murphy, from his house with a promise of 300,000 gallons of heating oil for charity. Williams pulled a gun, bound and gagged Murphy and forced him into the trunk of his car. Murphy was forced to record ransom messages, then was driven around the city for nearly two days.
Williams claimed to represent a right-wing militia group and demanded $700,000. The paper delivered the money, and Murphy was released. He quickly banged out a 4,000-word story as authorities captured Williams at home with the money.
Williams spent nine years in prison.
Murphy went on to head the Baltimore Sun, become president of the U.S. Golf Association and CEO of the National Geographic Society.
- Scott McCabe