Danny Goldman. I hadn't heard the name in almost 47 years and I never expected to unless I was telling the story. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
In 1966, I was 26, a newsman for The Associated Press in Miami. In March of that year, I was sent to Surfside, which is just north of Miami Beach. It was the scene of a sensational kidnapping and the stories I wrote were published around the country. The victim was high school senior Daniel Goldman
I never forgot Surfside.
Why? I think there are several reasons. It was the quiet, orderly nature of the setting, the inexplicable aspects of the kidnapping, and the rapidly increasing realization at the time that we--the press--couldn't fathom what had happened. Then, too, there was the sudden, arbitrary nature of the crime.
Standing near the Goldman home drinking coffee, talking to other reporters, trying to get a few words out of law enforcement officers at the scene, I had basically one expectation -- that the good guys would soon provide the story with a happy ending, seizing the kidnapper and rescuing his victim. I expected that law enforcement officials in ties and suits would leave the Goldmans' Surfside home, where the teenager had been seized the day before he was to turn 18, and announce that their colleagues had slapped the handcuffs on a perpetrator. Life would return to normal.
As days passed, it became clear that the kidnapper, who was never caught and never identified, and Danny Goldman, who was never seen again, had simply vanished.
Who was this kidnapper? Where did he take his victim? Why didn't he call to explain how a ransom was to be delivered? How could kidnapper and victim simply, suddenly, disappear? Has this kidnapper lived happily ever since, relishing his unpunished crime? Or is he consumed with guilt and regrets? What made him choose this victim at this time and this place? Is the kidnapper still alive? He was described as being in his early 50s in 1966.
I always had the sense that this was the oddest of cases. How could it be that a man who was notably erratic -- one could almost say bumbling -- remained free despite the enormous resources of the FBI and other police agencies that took up the case?
I expected him to be stopped by a patrol car, taken off a boat or detained at an airport.
The kidnapping was a priority for law enforcement. A 1966 Miami News headline announced: "FBI No. 1 Mystery: The Goldman Case."
In March of 2013, it will be 47 years since Danny Goldman was taken from his home.
Imagine my surprise, then, when, sitting at my computer, I recently read his name. A news story said this cold case was attracting new attention.
To find out what was going on, I called Paul Novack, an attorney and former Surfside mayor, who has gotten together with others to seek justice for Danny Goldman.
"The case is quite active," he reported.
He said his group spent thousands of hours gathering material that was passed to law enforcement.
"Details never previously uncovered were compiled and assimilated," according to the group's website, www.surfsidekidnapping.org.
"We have been piecing together a puzzle," Novack told me, "and a picture is developing."
A spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department assured me, "This remains an open investigation."
"The kidnapper came into the Goldman home looking for $10,000 in cash," Novack said. When it wasn't there, he took the teenager and demanded $25,000.
The intruder said if this figure wasn't paid, the amount would jump to $50,000. He also said he would call that evening. He made no such call, Novack recounted.
The present-day equivalent of $10,000 in 1966 is more than $70,000.
The gun-wielding kidnapper had slipped into the Goldman residence through an unlocked patio door in the early hours, bound the Goldmans with Venetian blind cord and forced the younger Goldman to leave with him in the teenager's car, which was later found abandoned in Miami Beach.
At the time, a detective suggested that the kidnapper may have been trying to recoup money lost in business dealings with the victim's father, a contractor. The remark gained wide attention. But nothing came of this.
Now, among much else, Novack's group touches on the peculiarities of the case.
"The links and 'coincidences,'" its website says, "are rather amazing." It goes on to state that "people of national historic significance had at least peripheral and previously unknown connections to the case."
Case still active? Amazing links? Newly uncovered details? When it comes to this case, nothing surprises me anymore.
Let us hope that, through it all, Danny Goldman finally gets justice.
Sarasota-based Hedley Burrell, a frequent Florida Keys visitor, is a former editor and writer for The Washington Post and media adviser for U.S. government agencies.
Charles Krauthammer, a columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, regularly appears here on Mondays. He should return next week.