Year
1992
Month Day
May 03

Exxon executive is murdered

Exxon executive Sidney Reso dies in a storage vault in New Jersey. Four days earlier, he was abducted from the driveway of his Morris Township, New Jersey, home. Reso was shot in the arm, bound and gagged, and then placed in a wooden box that was hidden in a virtually airless storage space. Despite his death, the kidnappers continued with their ransom plans.

The kidnappers’ notably complex ransom notes demanding $18.5 million in used $100 bills were sometimes signed, “Rainbow Warriors.” Detectives were able to get DNA samples from both the ransom notes and the pay phones at Exxon stations where the kidnappers made their calls, leading them to Arthur and Irene Seale. The couple was arrested on June 19, 1992, after a protracted chase involving more than 100 FBI agents.

Arthur Seale was a former police officer and Exxon security consultant who was fired in 1987. Apparently, choosing Reso as his victim was partially fueled by his hatred of Exxon. Seale tried to throw the FBI offtrack by pretending that the kidnapping was the work of environmental radicals. However, the Seales were mainly motivated by their desire to fund a lavish lifestyle. After running up a mountain of debt living in a couple of resort towns, they were forced to move in with Arthur’s parents.

Irene Seale was eventually persuaded to testify against her husband, and she led officers to Reso’s body, which had been dumped in a remote area of the southern New Jersey Pine Barrens. Since New Jersey law prevented a person from testifying against his or her spouse in court, a federal court, which permits spousal testimony, tried Arthur Seale instead. He was convicted and sentenced to 95 years in prison and fined $1.75 million. Irene Seale received a 20-year sentence.

In an interesting parallel that occurred later that year, Sol Wachtler, the chief judge of New York’s highest court, copied some of Seale’s tactics to terrorize his former lover, Joy Silverman. Investigators examining the letters that Wachtler sent anonymously to Silverman were so similar to those written by Seale that at first they thought Seale was somehow connected. In fact, it turned out that Wachtler was so fascinated by the Reso kidnapping that he purposefully mimicked the style of Seale’s ransom notes. In this bizarre case, Justice Wachtler was convicted of stalking Silverman and her teenage daughter and was sent to prison after resigning from his position.

Tags
terms:
Crime

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Supreme Court rules in Hernandez v. Texas, broadening civil rights laws

The Supreme Court issues a momentous ruling that clarified the way that the American legal system handled charges of discrimination. In Hernandez v. Texas, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment applied to all racial and ethnic groups facing ...read more

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann goes missing in Portugal

On May 3, 2007, less than two weeks before her fourth birthday, Madeleine McCann of Rothley, England, vanishes during a family vacation at a resort in southern Portugal. McCann’s disappearance prompted an international search; however, she has never been found. In May 2007, the ...read more

Japanese war crimes trial begins

In Tokyo, Japan, the International Military Tribunals for the Far East begins hearing the case against 28 Japanese military and government officials accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during World War II. On November 4, 1948, the trial ended with 25 of ...read more

New Japanese constitution goes into effect

On May 3, 1947, Japan’s postwar constitution goes into effect. The progressive constitution granted universal suffrage, stripped Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power, stipulated a bill of rights, abolished peerage, and outlawed Japan’s right to make war. The document was ...read more

Joseph Fletcher lands first aircraft on the North Pole

A ski-modified U.S. Air Force C-47 piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph O. Fletcher of Oklahoma and Lieutenant Colonel William P. Benedict of California becomes the first aircraft to land on the North Pole. A moment later, Fletcher climbed out of the plane and walked to the ...read more

Italian philosopher and writer Niccolo Machiavelli born

On May 3, 1469, the Italian philosopher and writer Niccolo Machiavelli is born. A lifelong patriot and diehard proponent of a unified Italy, Machiavelli became one of the fathers of modern political theory. Machiavelli entered the political service of his native Florence by the ...read more

173rd Airborne Brigade deploys to South Vietnam

The lead element of the 173rd Airborne Brigade (“Sky Soldiers”), stationed in Okinawa, departs for South Vietnam. It was the first U.S. Army ground combat unit committed to the war. Combat elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade included the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Battalions, ...read more

Funk master, James Brown, is born

“Soul Brother #1,”The Godfather of Soul,” “Mr. Dynamite,” “Sex Machine,” “The Minister of the New New Super Heavy Funk.” These are some of the names by which the world would eventually know James Joseph Brown, Jr., the revolutionary musical figure who was born on May 3, 1933. The ...read more

Lord Byron swims across tumultuous Hellespont strait in Turkey

George Gordon, Lord Byron, swims across the Hellespont, a tumultuous strait in Turkey now called the Dardanelles. Legendary Greek hero Leander supposedly swam the same four-mile stretch. Byron’s visits to Greece later made him a passionate supporter of Greek independence from ...read more

U.S. Supreme Court decides Paramount antitrust case

On May 3, 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision in U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, et al., the government’s long-running antitrust lawsuit against Paramount Pictures and seven other major Hollywood movie studios. The forerunner of the case was a 1928 antitrust lawsuit ...read more

Trains collide near Tokyo, killing more than 160 people

Two commuter trains and a freight train collide near Tokyo, Japan, killing more than 160 people and injuring twice that number on May 3, 1962. It was Constitution Day in Japan when a commuter train pulled out of Mikawashima station at 9:30 p.m. taking passengers out of Tokyo. ...read more

Congressional hearings on General MacArthur begin

The Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, meeting in closed session, begin their hearings into the dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur by President Harry S. Truman. The hearings served as a sounding board for MacArthur and his extremist views on how the Cold War ...read more

MADD founder’s daughter killed by drunk driver

On May 3, 1980, 13-year-old Cari Lightner of Fair Oaks, California, is walking along a quiet road on her way to a church carnival when a car swerves out of control, striking and killing her. Cari’s tragic death compelled her mother, Candy Lightner, to found the organization ...read more

The Battle of the Coral Sea begins

On this, the first day of the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion force succeeds in occupying Tulagi of the Solomon Islands in an expansion of Japan’s defensive perimeter. The United States, having broken Japan’s ...read more