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Looking back: Buried stolen goods found, cattle thieves stopped and woman escapes kidnapper

Looking Back

IDAHO FALLS — EastIdahoNews.com is looking back at what life was like during the week of July 25 to July 31 in east Idaho history.

1900-1925

MENAN — Three women had a “narrow escape from lightning,” according to an article in The Rigby Star dated July 26, 1917.

Joan Lott, Blanche Poulson and Nora Green were standing in front of a church building when lightning struck during a “heavy electrical thunderstorm” making its way across the valley.

“They received a severe shock which resulted in rendering them unconscious for some time, and at first it was thought the accident had proven fatal, but fortunately all three recovered,” the local paper said. “Twelve others were stunned at the time, the accident having taken place immediately after church.”

1926-1950

NEWDALE — Stolen goods were found partly buried in the ground near Newdale, according to The Rexburg Standard’s July 28, 1932, newspaper.

Earlier in the month, on July 4, 27 of 54 dresses and six suits were stolen from the Liberty Company. Later that month, the items were discovered “in the earth” in a burlap sack by two Newdale youth.

The stolen clothing was “badly damaged” by rain and soil. No trace of the robbers had been found at the time the article was published.

1951-1975

LABELLE — A man stopped thieves from stealing his neighbor’s cattle, The Rigby Star said on July 26, 1951.

Jim Bazil returned home late from a square dance event in Rigby when he heard “commotion among the cattle” and went to check on them. He then saw two men in the process of loading a “prize 4-H heifer” that belonged to Cody Clinger, into a truck.

“As Mr. Bazil ran back to get his car, he heard one of the two men say, ‘There he comes. Let’s get out of here,'” the article explained.

They both jumped into the truck and drove away. The truck’s tracks were followed south and east but eventually lost on the pavement.

“The Clinger cattle, 26 head, had been driven out of the pasture and drifted down the road,” The Rigby Star mentioned.

The Clinger family also pointed out that car tools and other items had recently been stolen from their yard.

1976-2000

DOWNEY — A California woman was kidnapped in a supermarket parking lot near her home before escaping her alleged kidnapper in Downey, the Idaho State Journal reported on July 30, 1976.

Paul Anderson, an escapee from a minimum security prison at Tehachapi, California, forced Susan Melton, 25, and her five-month-old son into their truck at gunpoint.

“Apparently, she was forced to drive to Las Vegas where she was allowed to leave her infant with a babysitter at a motel, figuring the child would be safer,” detectives said. “She (told officers she) was not able to tell the babysitter of her predicament.”

Anderson and Melton then drove through Salt Lake City before stopping at a truck stop in Downey.

“Mrs. Melton successfully feigned an illness and demanded an ambulance, escaping her alleged captor,” detectives said.

The exact sequence of events was unclear at the time, but Oneida County Sheriff Kenneth Wharton was alerted to the incident by Downey authorities. He spotted Anderson driving southbound on the highway and followed him. Wharton radioed Box Elder County authorities in Utah to set up roadblocks.

It was believed Anderson “ran off the road at the barricades and was injured.” Utah authorities said he was taken to the hospital but did not disclose the extent of his injuries.

The kidnapping was being investigated by the FBI.

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