February 18, 2006

The Kidnapping of Sidney Reso

The Kidnapping and Murder of Sidney Reso - 1992
In the early morning hours of April 19, 1992, Sidney Reso was kidnapped from his beautiful Morris Township, NJ home. Reso, a 57-year old Exxon executive was captured as he walked to the end of the driveway to retrieve his newspaper. Sidney Reso, shown at right, would never come home, thanks to his kidnappers, Arthur and Irene Seale.

I grew up in Hunterdon County, NJ and the kidnapping occurred about 20 miles from where I lived. I was in high school at the time of the kidnapping and I was fascinated with the case. I remember reading The Star-Ledger everyday to see if they had any updates. Hunterdon County is a very rural area as is Morris County, where Reso lived. Crime is not commonplace in either county so a kidnapping was big local news and talk of the town. In addition to the kidnapping, Hunterdon County had two other “famous” crimes happen there. The Lindberg baby kidnapping took place in 1932 and the shooting of Jayson Williams’ limo driver happened in 2002.

When the police arrested Arthur and Irene Seale, the case became more personal. I went to school with Courtney Seale, the daughter of Arthur and Irene Seale. She lived five minutes away on Musconectong River Road in Lebanon Township. She lived with her grandparents and attended Voorhees High School. Courtney stood out in our conservative high school with her “different” style of dress and hairdo’s. She was very quiet, wore all black with dark make-up and nails. Her hair is naturally brown but she sometimes dyed it black and shaved it in the back. At one point I remember her dressing “normal” and wearing colors but that soon faded back to black. Courtney was very friendly with a nice smile. She was one grade level above me but I remember having a few classes with her. She was always nice, rarely participated in class discussions but she was smart and got good grades. I will talk more about Courtney’s current life later.

Arthur and Irene Seale also lived with his parents. They were broke and desperate so they decided to become criminals to get themselves out of debt. Years earlier, Arthur worked at Exxon as a security guard and then as a security advisor. Ironically, he helped develop Exxon’s policy for executive kidnappings. They were living the good life as he was earning a six figure income. The couple bought a $400,000 home and they drove matching white Mercedes convertibles. Arthur was fired in 1987 and he and Irene started their own business furniture business on Hilton Head Island, SC. The business failed within a year and forced them to declare bankruptcy.

The couple and their two children, Courtney and Jason, moved to Vail, Colorado. Arthur worked as a stock broker and Irene worked off and on. They lived the “good life” to the outside but in reality they couldn’t afford it. After a few years, they were broke and moved back to live with Arthur’s parents in NJ. They couldn’t find work and eventually came up with the kidnapping idea. According to some reports, they also considered robbing a bank.

Arthur developed a plan of action. He cased the top Exxon executives to see who the best target would be. He chose Reso because he led a routine life. He always left around the same time in the morning and he always stopped to pick up the paper. Its been said Arthur watched Reso from his van for over a month before he kidnapped him.

On the morning of April 19, 1992, the Seale’s put their plan into action. Irene was behind the wheel of the van and Arthur jumped out to grab Reso as he went to pick up his newspaper at the end of the driveway. His eyes and mouth were taped shut and he was tied with a rope. At some point, Arthur shot him in the arm. He says it was accidental but the investigations think otherwise. They brought Russo to a storage facility in Washington, NJ- about 5 minutes away from where they lived with his parents. Ten minutes away from my house.

Arthur Seale made a wooden casket-like box and drilled holes in it for air. They left him bound and gagged and put him in the box. They did not treat his gun shot wound but gave him aspirin, an orange and some water. Basically, he was left to die. Investigators believe he suffered and then died four days after his kidnapping. After Reso died, the couple drove to the Pine Barrens- another rural area of NJ, which is about an hour and 15 minutes away from the storage facility. They dumped the body off the side of the road.

Shortly after the kidnapping, the Seale’s contacted Exxon and Reso’s wife demanding $18.5 million dollars as ransom. They declared themselves to be an environmental activist group known as “The Rainbow Warriors.” Over the course of the next few days, they made 12 calls and sent 8 letters to police. Even after Reso died, they continued to contact his family and police. The Seale’s led the police on a wild goose chase a couple of times to drop the money and finally the police outsmarted them. They traced the location of Arthur’s payphone call and saw him wearing gloves. The followed him and watched as he met up with his wife. The police followed the couple home, where they arrested them.

The couple ended up turning on each other and Irene struck a deal with police and led them to the body. Police then learned about the storage facility and the box where they kept him. Both plead guilty for their crimes and Arthur Seale was sentenced to life in prison. He is serving his time in North Dakota. Irene Seale got 20 years for her role in the murder and is serving her time in a NJ prison.

Courtney Seale has also turned to a life of crime. According to The Denver Post, Courtney has been arrested more than 60 times for larceny, drugs, assault and prostitution. You can see the many faces of Courtney Seale in this photo. In the lower left photo, Courtney had her jaw wired shut after she was injured in a beating. The upper left photo is how I remember Courtney. It is a tragic end to a tragic story.

I have to wonder if Courtney Seale ever had a chance. After her parent’s crime, Courtney dropped out of school but still remained in the area for a while. She dated an acquaintance of mine when I was a senior in high school and I remember seeing her at parties and get-togethers. Nobody ever mentioned the crime or her parents- at least not when she was around. The last I heard of Courtney, she had moved to Colorado. I did a simple internet search and found out what happened to her and it saddened me.

Please follow any of the links or visit Court TV’s Crime Library for more information.
* This entry was picked as the website of the day on 2/21 on coolpick.com. Check it out.

26 comments:

Joseph Hunt said...

I enjoyed this entry. It is sad to hear about children 'victims' of crazy parents.

Anonymous said...

The link to the news story where you found courtney seale was very interesting - seeing the progression of her from a fresh faced child to such a rough woman really does show how prostitution ruins people.

mcgill said...

To see an attractive young woman driven to such a tragic end is just sad. Poor kid never had a chance with those parents.

Anonymous said...

I actually did time with her mother in FCI Danbury she was a yoga & pilates instructor. It saddens me deeply to see how this has affected her daughter Courtney - last time I spoke to Irene she told me that Courtney was doing a lot better and clean and sober. May God bless her.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons Arthur said he commited the crime was to help his daughter with counseling. He said she had been raped by three men when she was 11 on the beach in South Carolina. The poor girl...they say alot of prostitutes are victims of sexual assult as children...I hope someday she finds peace.

Anonymous said...

Courtney had a son in 2000 and gave him up for adoption. We are the proud parents of him and he is a blessing to our family. It hurt to see this article and want her to know we pray for her often. Her son says some day he would like to meet her. We hope that when he is old enough, we will find her well. Courtney did a very courageous thing by having her son and giving him up for adoption. That charater alone shows she has alot of love inside her. People make mistakes.....her son will never be one of them.

Anonymous said...

I knew the Seales and Szarkos when I was growing up in Hillside, New Jersey. Arthur Seale's father was a former Deputy Police Chief who was once temporarily relieved of duty for mental health reasons. Arthur was also a police officer who had a reputation of being reckless and unprofessional. Jackie Szarko came from an affluent family. Her grandfather was a bootlegger during Prohibition who went legitimate, owning a liquor store and investing wisely in real estate. The Szarkos considered themselves local royalty and everyone else as second class citizens. With all this unsavory family and personal history, it's not particularly surprising that the Seales ended up the way they did. I feel very sorry for the children and wonder if they ever got any money to help rebuild their lives after their grandmother died. A very sad story on all counts.

truth said...

To the "author"-
You did not really know their daughter. She was my friend. Her brother's name is not Jason. It is easy to cut and paste facts that you read and things you hear, but your actions have only served to further hurt an injured soul. Those interviews with her EVIL parents made things so much worse for a hurting teenage girl who had no proper system of love and support. They aired all her PERSONAL pain on national tv to try and make the American public find some sympathy or understanding for the terrible murder. I was there at her house when the cops came that day, maybe I should write an article and pretend it has something to do with me too. Talk about the parents all you want, they are trash. But if you are going to advertise someone's trauma and hurt, maybe try getting the facts straight. And then ask yourself why you are really doing it. There are only seven degrees of seperation, and we all know someone "famous" or "newsworthy" indirectly, but it doesn't really have anything to do with us. She is a natural blonde by the way.

Anonymous said...

Truth, you are right. Courtney's brother is not named Jason. Courtney is a natural blonde and Deputy Chief Seale was never "removed" from duty. He took a medical leave of his own choice for a depression. He went back to duty and retired as DP chief. He died ten years ago. Shame on some of you!

Anonymous said...

I went to College with Justin, I remember Law Enforcement coming to the Dorm to question us on his where abouts during this ordeal. I remember Justin well because he and I were the only Grateful Dead Fans in the Dorm (It was a military College). I hope he is doing well.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard anything good about Justin for about 10 years. If anyone has news, please post. Where is he now?

Anonymous said...

The “author” of this article should be ashamed of this hot mess. Not only did they not check their facts, but they clearly lied about any personal knowledge about the Seale’s children. Unlike the writer, I actually did know Courtney, and I find it disgusting the way the facts have been misrepresented. I don’t know anything about Courtney Seale’s current life, but what I can say is that she was a young beautiful girl that endured a great personal tragedy. By the way, please decide whether you are a writer of fact or fiction before you shovel anything else to an audience….it’s confusing for those who don’t know the difference…

Flu-Bird said...

Aurher Seale and his wife learned too late that CRIME DOSE NOT PAY and so he will have the rest of his life to rot in proson to realized how stupid he was

Anonymous said...

I also knew the Seale's growing up in Hillside. They always thought they were better than everyone else and the father was released from his job for a nervous breakdown. His son was extremely violent as a cop and was forced to take disability retirement. They had alot to say about other people including their daughter of which is having multiple problems. So i guess what goes around comes around. KARMA!

Anonymous said...

I have often wondered about Courtney and how she is doing. I was in the same hospital with her in 1992 while she was being treated for an eating disorder. Does anyone have any accurate updates on her and how she and her brother are doing?

Pete said...

I'm watching the Sidney Reso kidnapping on Dateline right now.

Anonymous said...

I was friends with Justin in New Jersey. Very groomed and smooth guy. He could be described as being a fast talker. He turned out to be completely full of sh**. He was a liar and a thief. He lied about everything. I have never met someone like him in my entire life. I befriended him when he moved to our high school, since he did not know anyone. He was quite the smooth talker and had a story about everything. Very cool guy until his true colors eventually emerged. I would have trusted him with anything. I would say that the military College friend (commenter above) should consider himself lucky that he never saw the true side of his friend.

I introduced him into my circle. He hurt a lot of people with his lies. I caught him stealing from friends and family. Who steals from friends.

His parents were also complete liars, although we were never allowed to meet them only talk to them on the phone. Justin did not want us to meet them and always made up excuses why we could not come into his Grandparents house.

I also knew Courtney. She was 3 years younger then me at the time but was a very nice girl. Genuinely, a sweet girl. She ultimately became a victim of her horrible parents. I'm sure her folks murdering this poor man lead her into the drugs and depression. I never knew his Grandparents, but I think I remember they were upstanding people.

lee dumett said...

the couple were not very bright. irene couldn't read, and they fucked there furniture company up, then moved into a basement, and they could't even collect the ransom money they kept fucking it up, by giving the police the run around, and losing time. they should die a slow death, as they are scum r.i.p mr reso.

The 355 said...

My father was a photographer for the star ledger, he and his partner were the first to show up to take pictures not knowing what was going on. FBI wasn't happy and stopped them. (Causing the ledger block around the scene) My father knew one of the head Agents on the case and through that they were able to get everything in the article through an ad for a bird. My favorite story my father told me!

Anonymous said...

Irene Seale, now 63, was released from federal custody on November 20, 2009 and now is being supervised on federal probation for the next five eyars, said Felicia Ponce, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisions.

Seale's probation is being monitored by the U.S. Probation Office in Illinois, where her probation officer could not be reached for comment. Most of her sentence was served at a federal prison in Connecticut until her transfer in June to a halfway house in the Midwest.

Anonymous said...

Because Federal kidnapping law requires an intent to move the victim across state lines, the Seales were not charged with kidnapping. Instead they were tried on several other charges, including extortion, use of a weapon in the commission of a crime, consipracy. He was also faced a state charge of murder.

Two days before the trial was to begin, Seale plead guilty to all seven counts.

He was sentenced to 95 years in federal prision, and 70 years state imprisionment (after serving his federal time).

Anonymous said...

The Seales lived down the road from me. I rode the bus with Courtney. She was always very strange. She would pick and eat the flowers in the planted flower beds outside of Voorhees High School. She was pretty nuts and very unpredictable. Sometimes she would be nice but you always had to be careful not to say the wrong thing to her cause she was the type to become physically aggressive without warning. I remember my one buddy singing on the bus. She told him to shut up and stop singing ( he was kind of doing it to be annoying to begin with.) He kept singing. She aggressively pulled his hair and started to assault him. He kept singing suring the whole scuffle. It was quite entertaining. She was like a unfamiliar dog where if you stared at her the wrong way, you could easily get bit. The rape definitely screwed her up. I always tried to be friendly with her and didn't have any problems with her. I actually tried out some flowers with her. Anyway, yup she was nuts. I do hope she pulled herself together, cause man, i remember her looking like the 1st picture. But oh boy, what a mess she became. I've never seen anything like it. Stay the hell off of Meth guys, holy crap that stuff is not cool.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently watching the story on FBI: Criminal Pursuit and find it appalling that Mr. Reso suffered such an agonizing death and that one of his murderers has been released from prison! Yes, it is horrific that a child has to be involved in the senseless, narcissistic and horrific crime of her parents, but Mr. Reso was MURDERED and the lives of his loved ones shattered. I can't imagine how agonizing it must have been for him. I can't imagine what his wife must have felt to be led on and then to learn how her husband suffered and died alone. Irene Seale does NOT deserve to be free. It is INFURIATING that this sick woman is allowed to live free while Mr. Reso died at her murderous hands. Arthur Seale, with premeditation, consciously built a wooden box to hold Mr. Reso in and placed him in an unventillated metal storage unit that reached temperatures well over 100°. He was not given food or medication, just some crushed vitamins and a little water. He could not relieve himself and he must have been in excrutiating pain having been SHOT in the arm and left with an untreated wound. Irene Seale assisted Arthur and participated fully and willingly in the crime! Arthur Seale continues to be given three meals a day and is certainly not being housed in a wooden box in a dark, hot room. Arthur Seale has a bathroom and clean clothes and is even being given the opportunity to complain about prison conditions! Sidney Reso is dead. He was given no opportunities. The Seales deserve to be in a special place in Hell. I hope that their daughter can find the love and support to recover and an opportunity to live a better life. May Sidney Reso rest in peace.

Courtney Seale-Mangum said...

I was homeless for a lot of years due to my license and ID getting revoked in Bridgewater for a dime bag of weed. I finally drove at 28! I thank you for your support. I was never on meth, those pics are of me homeless and abused. I really wanted to do anything else, but without identification you can't rent or hold a job. People will beat and pimp you, fortunately as the daughter of a former vice cop I knew how to get arrested. No joke! Wouldn't you prefer jail to those beatings? No alas I wish it was drugs! Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Sadly it looks like Courtney Seale is still having issues. She was arrested for child desertion in Oct 2013 and contempt just a couple of months ago. Here's one mugshot: http://louisiana.arrests.org/Arrests/Courtney_Seale-mangnum_16723291/

Anonymous said...

HELLOW COURTNEY.. IM FEEL VERY HAPPY THAT I CAME ACROSS THIS SIGHT. THOUGH YOU MIGHT NOT REMEMBER ME WE BRIEFLY DATED WHEN YOU WERE HOSPITALIZED. I EVEN. ASKED YOU TO ME MARRY ME. BUT UNFORTUNATELY THAT NEVER CAME TO BE. I WAS THERE WITH YOU FOR A SHORT TIME. BUT I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOU. I WOULD LIKE IT VERY MUCH ANS BRING HAPPINESS TO MY HEART. PLEASE. CONTACT ME TONY (862)241-4175