EAST MACHIAS, Maine — Rescuing a “really big” gorilla was never one of Annette Farrington’s life goals, but soon the good Samaritan from Waterford will be doing just that.
She plans to drive to Vermont, visit family, pick up Seamore the kidnapped mechanical gorilla, and return her to the Miller family at Sandy’s Sales on Route 1.
Farrington hopes this will happen over the weekend. Her daughter lives about 30 miles from St. Albans, Vt., where Seamore is being held in custody by the Vermont State Police.
Meanwhile in Maine, police said Tuesday there is a suspect in the Labor Day weekend kidnapping caper.
Sandy and Lowell Miller can’t wait for Seamore’s return. The robotic gorilla has been like a member of the family since she first appeared 20 years ago, and has been a rubbernecker’s delight as she waved her furry black hand and rotated back and forth outside their flea market store, Sandy’s Sales.
Farrington said Tuesday that she volunteered to do the deed after she heard on her local news that the missing mechanical mammal had been located.
“I just wanted to help her out,” Farrington said of Sandy Miller. The two chatted on the telephone Tuesday about the couple’s efforts to get the road-weary gorilla home.
Farrington said she has a large truck and plans to put a sign on it that says, “Kidnapped gorilla bound for Sandy’s flea market in East Machias, Maine.”
Sandy Miller said Tuesday that the outpouring of support since Seamore was recovered by police has been overwhelming. Her telephone has been ringing all day and people are stopping by the Route 1 store.
She also has had her share of calls from news media, including requests for interviews from a radio station in Maine and a television station in Iowa that planned to interview her today.
Seamore was kidnapped over the Labor Day weekend from in front of the flea market. The Bangor Daily News picked up the story and by Tuesday Seamore’s escapades became part of the international news scene.
An Ohio man who manufactures gorillas read about the stolen gorilla and put together a YouTube video about Seamore’s plight and offered a $500 reward.
Sometime during the early morning hours Sunday, Seamore was spirited under the cover of darkness to a cornfield in Swanton, Vt., where she was abandoned. Standing tall among the cornstalks, Seamore waited to be rescued by police.
Although the kidnapper was in full disguise, including his face, the Maine State Police said Tuesday the Vermont police do have a suspect.
Getting Seamore back has been a struggle for Miller, including lots of police questions and paperwork.
Miller said the Vermont officer first asked her for the serial number that was on the bottom of the gorilla’s stand. “That’s like asking someone to know the serial number on a $50 bill if they would lose it,” she said. “Who’s going to look at a serial number — you’re going to spend it, right?”
When she couldn’t come up with the serial number, the police wanted more.
“They wanted to know if I had proof of ownership of the gorilla,” she said. “I thought, ‘You’re kidding. After 20 years I have to come up with a receipt?’”
Finally they agreed that a 10-year-old picture of Seamore in one of the local parades would do. Miller faxed it and a release form allowing the police to release the gorilla into Farrington’s care.
Miller said she plans to put collection cans around local businesses to help raise money for gas for the Waterford woman with any extra being donated to the local food pantry. The sign on the cans will say “Bring Seamore the Gorilla Home,” she said.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the fund can send a check to the “Seamore the Gorilla Fund,” P.O. Box 411, Machias 04654.