• U.S.

CRIME: I’ll Have Vengeance’

3 minute read

He is a peculiar but harmless figure on big-city streets, the lone man walking down a sidewalk, railing loudly at some injustice inflicted by a distant, impersonal tormentor. The angry man who actually acts out his rage usually appears only in films—the demented TV newscaster in Network, for example, who declares war on what he sees as the Establishment and touches a sympathetic nerve in millions of viewers by urging them to shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” But sometimes he appears in real life.

Last week in Indianapolis, Anthony Kiritsis, 44, a sometime car salesman who had hoped to make his fortune in real estate, was mad as hell, and he decided not to take it any more. He walked into the Meridian Mortgage Co., seized President Richard Hall, 42, wired the muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun to Hall’s neck and led him into the street to begin a 63-hour odyssey of personal fury and public terror.

Cheap Shot. Kiritsis pushed Hall along for four blocks, yelling, “Stay back, stay back!” at astonished pedestrians and gathering police. He then commandeered a patrol car and forced Hall to drive to Kiritsis’ two-room flat in Crestwood Village West, seven miles away. Once barricaded in his apartment with Hall as hostage, Kiritsis warned the police that the place was booby-trapped with dynamite. Then came his demands. From Meridian, he wanted immediate cancellation of a $130,000 mortgage that he had taken out months before in the hope of developing a 17-acre plot in Indianapolis into a shopping center. The loan was due on March 1, but the development was a failure. The reason, according to Kiritsis: Meridian had steered potential tenants away from his project for the purpose of forcing him into bankruptcy and foreclosing on his land. “These people betrayed me,” he told a telephone interviewer. “I went down there for vengeance, and by God I’ll have vengeance.”

Company officials said they would cancel the loan, while claiming they had warned retailers away from the project only because they felt the quick tempered Kiritsis was not up to managing it. Next, Kiritsis demanded full immunity from prosecution. The following day county officials agreed—on the condition that Hall would immediately be released. But Kiritsis waited another day, while his lawyer looked over the immunity agreement, before pronouncing himself satisfied. Then, beaming in what he thought was triumph, he marched Hall—still wired to the shotgun—into a lobby crowded with newsmen and police.

In an obscenity-filled 23-minute monologue before the TV cameras, Kiritsis declared himself “a goddam national hero.” Later he said that he had “really pulled one over” on the cops, confessing that he had no dynamite in his apartment. He finally released Hall, then defiantly fired his shotgun out a door. When the gun jammed as he tried to shoot again, police grabbed him.

As Kiritsis was led away to be booked for kidnaping and jailed in lieu of $850,000 bail, Police Chief Eugene Gallagher said: “Tony, you lied to us. You didn’t let [Hall go immediately], as you said. You blew it.” Officials later said they had never intended to let Kiritsis off in any case. As he slumped into the patrol car, Kiritsis muttered, “A cheap shot, a cheap shot.”

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