The 1930s was not only known as the decade of the Great Depression and the end of Prohibition, but it was also a time when high-profile kidnappings of children of wealthy parents for ransom were held.
The most nationally publicized abduction was that of the 20-month-old son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh in 1932. The case ended with the death of Lindbergh’s child and the death of a controversial suspect.
Then, in Tacoma, Washington, the news surrounding the 1935 kidnapping of nine-year-old George Weyerhaeuser, heir to the prominent Weyerhaeuser timber fortune, gained national attention. His ransom in that case was paid and young George was safely returned to his family. George Weyerhaeuser lived a long and productive life, eventually leading his family’s lucrative lumber business. He lived to his 95th year and died in 2022. He was one of his lucky victims of this kind of crime.
The FBI’s background in the Seattle area is notable, as these cases were under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The presence of the Bureau of Investigation in the area dates back to 1914 when it was known as the Bureau of Investigation. Operating primarily during World War I, the Bureau’s cases included cases of violations of federal criminal law. Early cases were mostly those of Ban, violent bank robberies, and alleged German sympathizers. With the end of World War I and the elimination of most of the notorious criminals of the 1920s, the Bureau’s offices in Seattle closed in 1932 and cases were handled in its Portland offices.
As mentioned earlier, little of national significance happened in the Seattle area until the kidnapping of young George Weyerhaeuser in Tacoma in 1935. However, the kidnapping and subsequent murder of another Tacoma boy, Charles Fletcher Mattson, in December 1936 prompted Seattle to establish a permanent presence in the FBI in March 1937, becoming the director of the Bureau. A deputy special agent has been appointed in charge of the Field Division. Since then, the FBI has always had an office in Seattle.
With the kidnapping and death of Charles Fletcher Mattson in 1936/1937, the FBI quickly realized they had another major case to solve. Personally, I learned about monsters at a young age because the deadly ending of Mattson’s kidnapping was too close to home.
Kidnapping and death of 10-year-old Charles Fletcher Mattson
When I was 9 (soon to be 10), the frozen, partially snow-covered corpse of 10-year-old Charles Mattson lay in a field a few miles northwest of our North Alderwood Manor poultry farm. It was discovered that His naked and battered body was found so close to Alderwood Manor and North Edmonds that FBI agents and other law enforcement officials were forced to investigate a bushy area a few miles south of the Everett city limits. flocked to The northern Alderwood Manor area seemed particularly interesting, perhaps due to its isolation and the presence of several vacant farms nearby.
Eighty-six years later, I will never forget what happened that snowy January of 1937 and what is now Lynnwood. When a few stone-faced federal agents knock on your door and ask you questions, you tend to get up and pay attention and remember.
Thus, with the kidnapping and brutal murder of Charles Mattson, the FBI had another case of national importance to deal with. The case, codenamed MATTNAP, was initially initiated by the FBI’s Portland division, but soon became the responsibility of the reopened Seattle office. At least eight of his local agents were assigned to the case. Also, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered about 40 additional agents to be posted in the area, and his assistant his director in charge of the investigation. To this day, even with Big Gun’s involvement, this deadly kidnapping mystery remains unsolved and MATTNAP remains an open case in his FBI files.
Synopsis of the Kidnapping of Charles Mattson and its Fatal Endings
Two days after Christmas, at about 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, December 27, 1936, three of Mattson’s children and a family friend met with a socially prominent Tacoma physician and surgeon, William W. I was in the living room of Dr. Mattson’s house. his wife Hazel; The kids were eating popcorn, drinking root beer and enjoying the night. Ten-year-old Charles His Mattson had a 16-year-old brother Billy, a 14-year-old sister Muriel, and a 15-year-old friend from Seattle, Virginia. His parents, Dr. Mattson, and his wife were attending a holiday social event that evening and were expected to return home soon.
Suddenly there was a loud knock on the French door leading to the rear terrace of the Mattsons’ Tudor mansion. When Charles went out to look, he saw a man standing on the terrace. His face is covered with a mask. When a masked stranger kept banging on the door, he suddenly used a handgun to break the door glass. Opening the door, a masked man entered the house. After scaring them away after demanding money the children didn’t have, he grabbed Charles, dropped a note on the floor, fled into the night with the little boy in his arms, and headed for Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. Meanwhile, the rather upset intruder threatened the children until their masks slipped and their faces clearly visible. .
The stranger threw a note on the floor demanding a ransom of $28,000. The paper on which the dunning letter was printed was folded and worn as if it had been in the man’s pocket for a long time, and a seemingly generic message appeared to have been printed using a child’s toy typewriter. rice field. Without success, Dr. Mattson tried several times to make arrangements with the kidnappers to pay the ransom demands. No ransom was paid and Charles was never seen alive again.
On the morning of Monday, January 11, 1937, 15 days after his Tacoma kidnapping, the body of Charles Mattson was found in southern Snohomish County, a few miles north. His body is located about 150 feet west of Edmonds-Beverly Park Road, half a mile west of him on Pacific Highway (Highway 99) and Westerburg Corner (Conrad He Westerburg owned gas station and house). It was left in an alder bush. Nineteen-year-old Gordon Morrow was hunting rabbits in a nearby field that morning when he came across a dead body. I was able to go and use my phone to inform the Snohomish County Sheriff of the horrifying discovery.
Footprints and tire tracks in fresh snow nearby indicated to authorities that Charles was killed elsewhere and his body dumped in a snow-covered, out-of-the-way field late Sunday night or early Monday morning. I got
Investigations found that Charles Mattson had been roped and severely abused. In fact, he had been brutally beaten. Charles was probably thought to have died near last Thursday. His body had been frozen for several days before being dumped where it was found.
A drawing of the suspect, labeled as Public Enemy No. 1, was published locally as well as many newspapers in the country. It was also featured on flyers posted by the FBI on the walls of post offices and other public and private buildings in the United States. .
Ever since she was a sensitive nine-year-old girl, the face of a strange kidnapper has been remembered as a monster. A few months after this tragic event, I was delighted when I moved from my wilderness farm to a location near downtown Edmonds.
Additional Concerns for Law Enforcement and Alderwood Manor Residents
Law enforcement officers and residents of Alderwood Manor were nervous and alert during the turbulent days of the hunt for a vicious killer. As a result, concerns were quickly raised when someone broke into and robbed the Alderwood Manor Post Office on Friday, January 22, 1937.
January 29th, Edmonds Tribune Review “A piece of silver under $45, a money order book, and a rubber stamp were loot obtained from the post office at Alderwood Manor last Friday night, where they opened the front door shortly after midnight. It was forced open and broken in. The sledgingers reported seeing lights at the post office around 1:00 am, but all they could think was that someone was working late.
Entering the place on Saturday morning, Mrs. H. Parker, the postmaster, saw something suspicious and, as if someone had dropped it, numerous small articles in the outside office that were not in their usual location. They hurried off. She then found the door to the back room open, and when she went inside, she found the drawers had been broken open and tampered with, and two bags were missing. The robber apparently thought the two bags were of considerable value and represented everything to be found. The strangest thing, according to Mrs. Parker, was that the drawer containing the currency had been searched, possibly looking for voids on postal orders, and the currency remained undiscovered.
“All signs indicated that the theft had been done in haste and ended abruptly, perhaps with an external warning. The only sign was the footsteps of a car that turned toward the door, but it clearly hadn’t stopped.
“Everett’s Sheriff’s Office was promptly notified and an investigation found that there was some connection between the kidnapping and theft of Mattson, who had placed Alderwood and the surrounding area under close surveillance over the past few weeks. It was announced that we believe it is possible.”
After months of investigation and several false leads, in November 1937, a former Seattle streetcar driver was arrested, pleaded guilty to the post office robbery, and denied any involvement in Mattson’s kidnapping. Judged. In addition to the guilty plea, evidence from the theft location was found at the suspect’s home. The suspect was put before a federal grand jury because he was unable to post $5,000 bail. He was convicted of post office robbery and sentenced to federal prison on McNeill Island, where he was still imprisoned in the 1940s.
Charles Fletcher Mattson story update
In 2006, the palatial Tudor home built for Dr. William Mattson and his family was demolished by the current owners and replaced with a completely different style.
In 2011, the book taken at nightWritten by popular Northwest crime storyteller Greg Olsen, has been published. I’m talking
— By Betty Lu Geng
Betty Gaeng was a longtime resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds who came to the area in 1933. Currently living in Alaska, she researches and writes about the history and people of her early Lynnwood and Edmonds and Mount Lake terraces.