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Originally published in The Morning Echo, Bakersfield, California, on Friday, Feb. 22, 1907 (top of front page)


Tehachapi Girl Taken From School Yard During Noon Recess and Brought to Bakersfield in an Automobile — Officers Get Wrong Scent — Off for Missouri

A bold abduction was committed at Tehachapi Wednesday afternoon, ten year old Celia Moseley being the abducted girl and her mother, Mrs. Elliott, Mr. Elliott and her uncle, the abductors. The kidnapping was done in broad daylight, the little girl having been captured at the school playground at 12:30 p.m., and the kidnapers making their escape to Bakersfield in an automobile, eluding the efforts of the sheriff and his deputies and leaving this city for the north on a night train Wednesday evening.

The automobile was hired at the Bakersfield garage and Manager Erb of the garage drove the party to Tehachapi and brought them back to Bakersfield at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Mr. Erb states he did not know their business. He was paid for his trip and he asked no questions.

Sheriff Kelly and his deputies had been early in the afternoon apprised of the abduction and had “kept a close watch and were satisfied the machine did not come to this city.” But it did and although Mr. Erb was ignorant of the mission of his party, he was not averse to telling that he had brought the party back to this city.

The abductors went north, it is presumed, on the midnight Owl and telegraphed yesterday from Sacramento to the father, Mr. Mosely, at Tehachapi, that the party had started on their way to Missouri, where the little girl will be brought up by her mother. It is said the father will exert every means to recover his lost child.

Abductors Easily Elude Officers.

The story of the bold abduction is quite and interesting and shows how easily the abductors came into the city, hired an auto, drove to the home of the victim, captured the child, returned to Bakersfield, paid the auto driver, ate their dinners in peace, purchased tickets for the north and leisurely left the city while the diligent officers were apparently running their heads off trying to find a clue to the parties who stole the girl, when the clue was within a stone’s throw of the sheriff’s office, and actual evidence was easily to be found at the only automobile garage in town.

Stop at the Massena.

Tuesday afternoon two gentlemen and a lady, all three strangers, arrived in the city and were directed to the Massena hotel as a stopping place. They came to the Massena about 11 a.m. and paid for a day’s lodging in advance. They did not register and according to Mrs. Massena were very much excited over something. They seemed very mysterious and kept to their rooms save in the afternoon when the three were seen in Redlick’s store purchasing some dress goods for a young girl of ten or twelve years of age.

Buy Dress at Redlick’s.

Miss Baker, a clerk, waited on the trio, who, after some dickering, decided on some goods and left. They ate dinner at the Massena that evening and continued to occupy themselves apart from the other guests. They gave orders to be called in time to leave in an auto at 5 a.m. in the morning.

Leave for Tehachapi.

At that hour the machine appeared at the Massena and the party bundled themselves into it and left the city, going, it was stated last evening by Mr. Erb, straight for Tehachapi, but stopping for lunch in front of the home of W.J. Knapp, a short distance on this side of the town.

Men Go to Schoolhouse.

The men, except Erb, left the machine and sauntered into Tehachapi and were seen near the school house, where they apparently were looking for some one. They spoke to no one and after a while came back to the machine where lunch was served. Mr. Erb was apparently not let into their secrets and after lunch the two strangers again walked to the school house and this time little Miss Moseley was playing out in the front yard.

Girl Recognizes Uncle.

Glancing up at the two men she cried, “Why, there’s uncle. Hello, uncle,” and with these words she hastened into his arms.

The machine was seen to drive up and the two men and the girl walked out to the auto.

“And There’s My Mamma.”

“And there’s my mamma” cried the little girl and she was handed joyfully into the arms of her mother and the chauffeur whirled his machine around and the party was off for Bakersfield.

Return to Bakersfield

Arrival in this city was made in safety and without incident and Mr. Erb was paid and the party disappeared, no one knows where. They were not seen at the Massena hotel again and “although a sharp lookout was kept” the escape was made easily.

Going to Missouri.

Yesterday Mr. Moseley received a message from his former wife, now Mrs. Elliott, dated at Sacramento and stating that they were on their way to old Missouri, where their future home is to be.

Girl’s Mother Abductor.

Mr. Moseley was divorced some time ago, and had been given the custody of the daughter. The latter, it is said, did not raise any outcry when she was so hastily whirled away. It may be said that a number of residents stated last evening that they had seen the automobile party arrive in the city.

Mr. Erb when seen last evening would say nothing more than he had taken a party of two gentlemen and a woman to near Tehachapi on Wednesday. He did not know their names and would not say that a young girl had been brought along back. Neither would he deny that the opposite was the case.

Mrs. Massena describes the men as being rather young, The lady was not over forty and wore a gray, plaid hat with black plumes that were very striking. She was dark complexioned, had dark hair and was handsome.

This transcription keeps the original spelling and punctuation for the sake of historical accuracy, although more paragraph breaks may be added to aid readers. When errors of fact or the spelling of names of people or places are known, they will be noted below, as appropriate.

Index notes: Celia (Vonceil) Moseley and others with no first names included

Editor’s note: Later articles identify the girl as Vonceil Moseley (perhaps Celia was a nickname)