How Frank Sinatra Jr Got Kidnapped While Eating Chicken

Instances of kidnapping are always terrifying. Oftentimes, the victim is never recovered and loved ones have to stand by in endless turmoil wondering what became of them. Other times, the unsavory truth comes out in the worst of ways. When Charles Lindbergh's 2-year-old son went missing in March, 1932, hysteria broke loose throughout the world at large. Tragically, the boy was found dead shortly thereafter, and in 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed following conviction of abduction and murder. It's become one of the most famous sagas of kidnapping in history (per Britannica). 

All the same, there are still those situations wherein victims are returned safely to their families. One such scenario took place in 1963 when a malicious and vengeful individual named Barry Keenan devised a plan to kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr., son of the beloved and iconic jazz singer. Despite the fact that Junior was 19 years old at the time, the scandal became monumental. Keenan's goals (or lack thereof) was perplexing. Initially, he didn't want money or any sort of ransom. He only wished to make a statement, and it was a statement rooted in deep resentment toward those he viewed as unfairly endowed with excess fortune (via Far Out). 

Barry Keenan had it out for the rich

"I decided upon Junior because Frank Sr. was tough, and I had friends whose parents were in show business, and I knew Frank always got his way," Barry Keenan shared years later. "It wouldn't be morally wrong to put him through a few hours of grief worrying about his son." Keenan was reportedly a classmate of Nancy Sinatra's — Junior's sister and Frank's daughter — at UCLA, so he had an up close and personal look at the lavish lifestyle the Sinatra's enjoyed. Enraptured by jealousy and discontent, he decided that the only way to sufficiently make a statement on behalf of the less fortunate was with a big gesture that would shake the world (per Far Out). 

At the time, Barry Keenan was combating substance abuse and addiction issues, so his faltering state of mind presumably made him more apt to entertain bad (and criminal) ideas. With the help of a small team of cronies, Keenan started following Frank Sinatra Junior around while the singer toured the country. The opportune moment to strike came when Junior was relaxing in his hotel room over a plate of fried chicken near Lake Tahoe, Nevada (via Far Out). 

Frank Sinatra Jr. was eating chicken when he was kidnapped

It was on December 18, 1963 when Barry Keenan and Joe Amsler burst into Frank Sinatra Jr.'s hotel room and discovered him and his trumpet player John Foss having dinner. After tying up Foss and dragging Junior away from his plate of chicken at gunpoint, they brought him to their car parked outside and stuffed him into the trunk. Eventually, Foss managed to squirm out of the ropes binding his hands and immediately called police. At that point, Sinatra and his captors were well on their way to Los Angeles and had even successfully made it through a police barricade that had been set up in an effort to locate the missing singer (per Esquire). 

They eventually made it to Los Angeles and met John Irwin, the third party who had requested a hefty ransom from Sinatra's parents. After the FBI delivered the cash ($240,000 dollars) and carried out their end of the bargain, Irwin released Junior when a bout of paranoia and guilt took him over. He fled the scene and quickly made it to his sister's house with the help of a security guard he'd flagged down. The crooks, after evading capture for a time, were ultimately apprehended and sentenced to 75 years to life in prison. However, they never finished the entirety of their sentences and Barry Keenan actually went on to become a successful real estate agent in years following (via Far Out).