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Ex-Car Dealer’s Shooting Death Described as Apparent Suicide

A car dealer whose daughter was kidnaped 15 years ago was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Dana Point, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said.

The body of Arnold Henry Wiebe, 61, who had owned several car dealerships in the San Joaquin Valley, was found by deputies about 8 a.m. Thursday, Sheriff’s Lt. Russ Elsner said. He said officials had classified the death as an apparent suicide.

The body was found on the porch of a mobile home unit in Dana Point.

Wiebe, whose death is being investigated as a suicide, was wounded once in the throat, Lt. Dick Olson said.

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A neighbor told deputies that Wiebe had appeared despondent about personal and business problems recently.

Wiebe owned several car agencies in Visalia, about 160 miles north of Los Angeles, during the 1970s.

In March, 1971, he was thrust into the news when his 9-year-old daughter, Michelle, was kidnaped and held in a rural motel room for 29 hours while Wiebe raised a $300,000 ransom.

Wiebe left the money in a field as instructed, but the payoff was thwarted by a passing motorist who picked up the money bag and turned it over to police before the kidnapers could get to it.

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The girl was released unharmed a few hours later. Three men were captured and convicted in the kidnaping.


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