Real Name: John F. "Jack" Grundhofer
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: November 19, 1990
Details: On November 19, 1990, wealthy business executive John Grundhofer arrived at his offices at 8:10am in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As he exited his car in the parking garage, a man calling himself "Carl" approached John and tried to abduct him at gunpoint. However, John tried to struggle with him. A witness, Jeff Rasmusson, heard the commotion and responded, but the gunman ordered him to leave. At 8:13am, the gunman ordered John into his own car, forcing him to drive out of the garage to Wisconsin with dynamite handcuffed to his arm.
A passerby soon found a note at the garage which the FBI believed to be the "cheat sheet" for the gunman. The sheet would remind him about everything he was going to order John to do, suggesting to police that the gunman was not a professional. At around 8:45am, John and the gunman had crossed the state line into Wisconsin. The man asked him a few questions, which led John to believe that he had done research about his company.
At 8:57am, John was ordered to pull into a secluded rest area, where the gunman told John that he wanted $3 million ransom. John called his secretary and told her of the gunman's demands. This again suggested to police that this was not a professional kidnapper because he asked for thousand dollar bills.
The employees at First National Bank System began preparing the ransom, but when the gunman realized he had lost his cheat sheet, he became frustrated and had John go down a hill. The gunman removed the dynamite, tied up John, forced him into a sleeping bag and taped his mouth shut before vanishing. It took twenty minutes for John to free himself, and at 10:25am, he called his office from a farmhouse. The ransom was never paid.
The kidnapping made national news and the FBI set up a hotline. A man named John Henderson was identified by several people as the kidnapper after seeing a composite of the man. Henderson was a maintenance man who had no apparent connection to John Grundhofer; a search of his house turned up nothing. However, Henderson participated in a lineup, where Grundhofer identified him as the kidnapper. However, Jeff Rasmusson, the eyewitness in the garage, did not identify Henderson as the kidnapper.
Nevertheless, the FBI continued to look for evidence, and although a handwriting test did not match, they believed that Henderson's alibi was not airtight. Henderson was subject to a grand jury investigation, but no charges were ever filed. A $100,000 reward is being offered in the case.
Suspects: The FBI considers John Henderson a suspect in the case. The kidnapper was described as 6'2, 250 pounds, had thick, yellow-tinted glasses and had a ruddy complexion. He has never been identified.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the November 10, 1993 episode.
Two months before the kidnapping, John's daughter Karen survived being shot during the Henry's Pub hostage incident in Berkeley, California.
Results: Unsolved. Henderson was later cleared as a suspect; the true kidnapper was never identified. Interestingly, there has been some recent speculation that John Grundhofer actually staged his kidnapping in order to gain sympathy from the public. This theory was never confirmed. Sadly, he passed away on January 24, 2021.
- John Grundhofer on Wikipedia
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- First Bank Chairman, Long A Survivor, Is First Interstate’s White Knight - November 6, 1995
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- Jack Grundhofer, chairman emeritus of U.S. Bancorp and Coachella Valley philanthropist, dies at 82 - January 25, 2021
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- Banker Survived Bullets, a Kidnapper and Bad Press - February 3, 2021