|Died||January 28, 2005 (aged 72)|
Anthony "Tony" G. Kiritsis (August 13, 1932 – January 28, 2005) was an American kidnapper.
He was a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, and had fallen behind on the payments on a mortgage on a piece of real estate. In early February 1977, when his mortgage broker, Richard O. Hall, refused to give him additional time to pay, Kiritsis became convinced that Hall (and his father) wanted the property, which had increased in value and would be sold at a high profit. He had proof of this in writing.
On Tuesday, February 8, 1977, Kiritsis went to Hall's office and wired the barrel-end of a sawed-off shotgun to his head. The wire was also connected to the trigger and the other end was connected to Hall's neck. This "dead man's line" meant that if a policeman shot Kiritsis, the shotgun would go off and shoot Hall in the head. The same would happen if Hall tried to escape. Kiritsis called the police from Hall's office and told the police he had taken Hall as a hostage.
Kiritsis held Hall hostage for 63 hours. During this time, most of which was spent in Kiritsis's apartment, he frequently made calls to 1070 WIBC newsman Fred Heckman, who broadcast what Kiritsis said. Finally, a lawyer said Hall had signed a document stating that he had mistreated Kiritsis, would pay him $5 million, and that Kiritsis would not be prosecuted or even arrested. Kiritsis then held a speech in front of live TV cameras, declaring himself "a goddamned national hero." His speech became so emotional that some journalists thought he would shoot Hall, so they terminated the live broadcast. Eventually, however, Kiritsis released Hall. To prove the gun had been loaded, he fired it into the air, and was immediately arrested. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Most people who knew Kiritsis had good things to say about him and were surprised at what he had done. Kiritsis is described as "always helpful and kind to his neighbors, a hard worker, and a strict law-and-order sort of man". Kiritsis also said several times that he didn't want anyone to get hurt and apologized for the way he treated Dick Hall. At his trial psychiatrists said he was psychotic and in a "paranoid delusional state" during the hostage incident.
Kiritsis was released from a mental institution in January 1988, after the state could not prove he was still a danger to society. Kiritsis died in January 2005 at his home of natural causes. He was 72 years old.
Effects of the case
- At the time of the trial, Indiana law (and that of some other states) required the prosecution to disprove a defendant's claim of insanity, i.e. to prove the defendant sane, beyond a reasonable doubt. Directly as a result of the Kiritsis trial—particularly the testimony of chief defense psychiatrist Larry M. Davis—and the trial of John Hinckley Jr., Indiana among other states substantially revised their law to place the burden of proof for insanity-pleading defendants squarely on the shoulders of the defense.
- John H. Blair, a freelance photographer for UPI, took a photograph of the incident which won him the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.
- Footage of the incident was included in the 1982 documentary The Killing of America as one of many examples of violence in the United States.
In popular culture
The case was covered on an August 2016 episode of "The Dollop", an American history podcast with comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds. The case was also covered on a November 2018 episode of Swindled, a podcast dealing with white-collar crime.
- Tony Kiritsis Case Archived 2006-05-04 at the Wayback Machine. Faculty.ed.umuc.edu. Retrieved on 2011-02-09.
- "'Tony' Kiritsis dead at 74; Held an Executive Hostage for 63 Hours in Indy in 1977 | 93.1 WIBC". Wibc.com. 2005-01-28. Retrieved 2017-05-24.
- David J. Bodenhamer; Robert Graham Barrows (November 1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indiana University Press. pp. 1151–. ISBN 978-0-253-31222-8. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- Tony Kiritsis' Press Conference
- Kiritsis' Apartment
- Tony Kiritsis Case
- "I'll Have Vengeance" – TIME Magazine article
- Legendary WIBC Newsman Key Figure in Ending Standoff
- Obituaries in the News
- StarFiles: Tony Kiritsis, a very angry man
- Kiritsis and Me: Enduring 63 Hours at Gunpoint by hostage Dick Hall