Tony Kiritsis  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Anthony (Tony) G. Kiritsis (August 13, 1932 - January 28, 2005) was an American kidnapper. Footage of the incident was included in the 1982 documentary The Killing of America as one of many examples of violence in the United States.

He was a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana and had fallen behind on the payments on a mortgage on a piece of real estate. In February 1977, when his mortgage broker, Richard O. Hall, refused to give him additional time to pay, Kiritsis became convinced that Hall (and his father) wanted the property, which had increased in value. They could sell it at a considerable profit. Kiritsis took Mr. Hall hostage.

The crime

Kiritsis went to Hall's office and wired a sawed-off shotgun to his head. The other end of the wire was connected to the trigger and then to Kiritsis' neck. This "dead man's line" meant that had a policeman shot Kiritsis, the shotgun would go off and shoot Hall in the head. The same would happen if Hall would have tried to escape. Kiritsis called the police from Hall's office and told the police he had taken Hall as a hostage.

Kiritsis held Hall hostage for 63 hours. During this time, most of which was spent in Kiritsis' apartment, he frequently made calls to local radio host Fred Heckman, who broadcast what Kiritsis said. Finally, a lawyer said Hall had signed a document stating that he had mistreated Kiritsis and would pay him $5 million and that Kiritsis would not be arrested and prosecuted. Kiritsis then held a speech in front of live TV cameras. His speech became so emotional that some journalists thought he would shoot Hall, so they terminated the live broadcast. Eventually, however, Kiritsis released Hall. To prove the gun had been loaded, he shot a bullet in the air. He was immediately arrested. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Most people who knew Kiritsis had good things to say about him and were surprised at what he had done. Kiritsis is described as "always helpful and kind to his neighbors, a hard worker, and a strict law-and-order sort of man". <ref name=""/> Kiritsis also said several times that he didn't want anyone to get hurt and apologised for the way he treated Dick Hall. At his trial psychiatrists said he was psychotic and in a "paranoid delusional state" during the hostage incident.

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