Arthur Seale (born 1947), of Hillside, New Jersey, and his wife Irene were responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Sidney Reso, the Vice President of International Operations for Exxon on April 29, 1992, in Morris Township, New Jersey. The case garnered national notoriety.
In the 1970s, Seale was a police officer for the township. Art Seale also worked as Head of Security at Exxon Corporation at the Florham Park, New Jersey ECI - Exxon Company Int't location in 1982, and was promoted to Security Manager there in 1984. Art resigned from Exxon a few years later to begin his own furniture business in the Carolinas. After he and his wife went broke trying to start their own business in Hilton Head, they left town owing creditors and moved in with Art's parents.
Kidnapping and murder of Reso
Prior to the abduction of Reso, Irene jogged in his neighborhood frequently to monitor his daily routine, learning that he would usually pull out of his driveway every morning and get out of his car to pick up his daily newspaper before heading to work. On April 29, Irene jogged past Reso's driveway and deliberately kicked his paper away so he would be forced to walk a longer distance to pick it up. She then entered Arthur's white van with him in the passenger seat and drove to Reso's driveway as he got out of his car to retrieve his paper. Arthur got out of the van and took Reso in at gunpoint. When Reso saw a wooden box in the back of Arthur's van, he struggled to break free and was shot in the arm before being bound, gagged, and placed in the box before driving off. An hour later, a neighbor noticed Reso's car still in the driveway with its engine on and called police, who after being unable to find him in the surrounding area, concluded he had been taken for ransom.
The next day, police received a phone call from a woman claiming to be Reso's kidnapper directing them to a letter in a highway street sign. In it, the kidnappers claimed to be members of the Greenpeace Environmentalist group who were furious at Exxon after the Exxon Valdez oil spill three years earlier and 1985 deliberate Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior that killed Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. The note demanded $18.5 million in used $100 bills for Reso's release. The money was to be put into several Eddie Bauer laundry bags and dropped outside a restaurant on River Road. Although the FBI had the money ready and waited outside the restaurant for over an hour, the kidnappers never showed up.
For the next few weeks, the FBI and investigators receive several confusing phone calls and letters leading them to various points throughout Morris and Somerset Counties, including one that claims the kidnappers are aware of their presence in the ransom deal and have thus taken Reso out of the country. However, investigators notice the letters were placed in points that only someone who has strong knowledge of Morris Township would be aware of and begin suspecting that the kidnappers were not members of Greenpeace at all. Further fueling this speculation was them tracing their calls and learning they were all made from nearby pay phones. In response to one of the letters, Reso's wife Patricia made two public appearances on TV pleading for her husband's safe return.
During the investigation, the FBI received several clues, including one eyewitness seeing a white van near Reso's home on the morning of his abduction, a blonde woman jogging frequently in the area, and hair belonging to a Golden Retriever found in one of the letters. They would later learn the van belongs to Arthur, the jogger was Irene, and the Seales did indeed own that kind of dog.
On the night of June 18, the FBI received another call from the kidnappers for a ransom drop. However, the agents arrived at the drop-off location too late and the chief received a call from the kidnappers trying to work on an alternate plan. During the call, an agent noticed a man picking up a public phone wearing latex rubber gloves. Suspicious, she took down his license plate number as he drove off and the FBI learned that the car belonged to a nearby rental company. Despite the fact the shop was already closed, the owner agreed to meet up with them and said the car had been rented to Arthur Seale. He arrived in that car soon after and was arrested. Irene was also arrested when she arrived at the shop.
Seale pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and murder of Sidney Reso. He is serving a 95-year sentence, in a Federal Prison in Fairton, New Jersey, for kidnapping and murder. He has since earned advanced degrees in psychology and some degree of praise and recognition for his work with other inmates and his articles on prison reform and prisoner rehabilitation.
After Irene pleaded guilty, she cooperated with police in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. She testified that, after abducting Reso, she and her husband confined him to a pine box in a metal storage facility, giving him very little food and water, and no medical treatment for his bullet wound. Three days after the kidnapping, Reso died from heat and exhaustion. The couple dumped his body in Bass River State Park. It would be discovered on June 28. Irene was sentenced to 20 years in prison and released in November 2009.
- Nieves, Evelyn. "Portrait of 2 Accused of Kidnapping: Ardent, Hapless Pursuit of Affluence", The New York Times, June 28, 1992. Accessed October 2, 2007. "Growing up in Hillside, N.J., Arthur Seale and Jackie Szarko were more than comfortable."
- Bovsun, Mara (May 22, 2010). "Ransom gone bad Exxon oil executive Sidney Reso killed in kidnap try by Arthur and Irene Seale". Daily News. New York: Mortimer Zuckerman. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Find an inmate – Arthur D Seale (Register Number: 15882-050, Located at: Fairton FCI, Release Date: March 24, 2075)". www.bop.gov. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- Hanley, Robert (June 29, 1992). "Officials Say Body in Forest Is Sidney Reso". The New York Times. New York City: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Find an inmate – Irene J Seale (Register Number: 15881-050, Released On: November 20, 2009)". www.bop.gov. Retrieved August 21, 2014.