Secrets of Scandal: Snake in the Garden

By Jess Brownell, Researcher Mar 29, 2013

Hollis DoyleThis week on Scandal, everybody’s favorite Southerner Hollis Doyle moseys into Pope and Associates, and this time – shock of all shocks – he’s not there to threaten or manipulate. Instead, Hollis is there as a client, because his daughter Maybelle has been kidnapped! Hollis has his suspicions that Maybelle may be putting on a grand performance, but his ex-wife (one of five) is terrified, and Olivia knows that “even the devil loves his kids” – so Hollis is welcomed into Pope and Associates.

Hollis is eventually convinced that his daughter has indeed been kidnapped when the kidnappers send Maybelle’s sawed-off ear in the mail, followed by a picture showing her bloody head. But unfortunately, the whole thing ends up being a scheme by a desperate Maybelle to extort money from her parents; she really did fake her own kidnapping and cut her own ear off, per Hollis’ initial fears.

The most obvious real-life parallel to Maybelle’s story may be that of J. Paul Getty III, who disappeared in July of 1973. His family did not at first believe that their bohemian son, a boarding school drop out, had really been kidnapped, and they refused to pay the 17 million dollar ransom. But upon receipt of the young Getty’s severed ear in the mail three months later, the family did eventually agree to pay a reduced ransom of 2.2 million. In this case, the ear removal was most definitely against the boy’s will, as the very real kidnappers were revealed to be Calabrian bandits.

But other famous kidnappings have not been quite what they seemed. The 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby initially seemed straightforward, with multiple ransom notes leading up to a money exchange.  But, after the ransom was transferred, the baby was not found in the location indicated by the kidnappers; instead, a badly decomposed body was found just a few miles from the Lindberg home.  Similarly, the JonBenet Ramsey case started with a ransom note that gave specific instructions, but then, conflicting with the instructions in the note, JonBenet’s dead body was found in the basement of the home.

Sketchy kidnappings seem to be common, but stories of people faking their own kidnappings are more rare. Two cases in the last few years are notable exceptions. In 2009, a Florida woman was accused of faking her own kidnapping to extort $50,000 from her husband. Her plot was revealed when her “captor” released tapes of the two of them discussing their plans, including asking to drive by her husband’s house every day to see how he was dealing with the kidnapping.  And earlier this year, an Irish property magnate, who had been missing for eight months, was finally found wandering the countryside with the word “thief” written on his forehead. He spun a tall tale of having been held captive by men who abducted him at gunpoint, but later admitted he was holed up in an isolated house in west Ireland to avoid paying back investors.

After Maybelle’s plot is revealed, Hollis shows a softer side of himself when he offers his daughter a chance at forgiveness; she can either come home and start over again or take the money. Sadly, this snake in the garden chooses to take the money. Sounds like Hollis will have to drown his sorrows in a bucket of Gettysburger Fourscores with extra bacon…