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Kidnapped Klutz


A kidnapping report that had put the city of Fargo into a frenzy was retracted on this day in 1928. On January 19, eighteen-year old Esther Monson was found lying unconscious on a sidewalk in downtown Fargo. The Bottineau girl was rushed to St. John’s Hospital, where she was resuscitated by doctors. Upon examination, the doctors found the back of Monson’s head badly bruised, and that the girl had suffered a sprained ankle. How she had come to be in such a state remained a mystery until Monson reported her story to her nurse the following evening.

Monson related that she had been kidnapped by three men near the Great Northern subway. She claimed that the men had forced her into their car and beaten her, although she was unsure as to how she had ended up on the sidewalk where she was found. The residents of Fargo became fearful that three kidnappers were on the loose in their own city. The next day, Monson told an identical story to a reporter from The Fargo Forum, but when she repeated the detailed story to Fargo’s Chief of Police Louis Dahlgren and Captain Morton Sydness, the officers noticed slight differences in her accounts. Since no car had been seen on the night of the 19th in either the area where Monson claimed to have been picked up, or where she was found, the officers grew skeptical of the girl’s story.

After probing her account further, Monson finally admitted that the story was “all a dream,” and that she had somehow believed it after waking up in the hospital that first night. By the time that she realized that the story was in fact a fiction of her own creation, it had already been reported to several people. Monson told the police officers that she had in fact slipped and fallen on the ice while walking home, and it was her own clumsiness that had resulted in her sustained injuries. This modified story was then reported to a second Forum reporter, who reassured the city of Fargo with the harmless account.


The Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune (Morning ed.). January 22, 1928: p. 1.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job