EAST MACHIAS, Maine — A friend of the elusive gorilla-napper called Sandy Miller, owner of the mechanical gorilla, on Wednesday night to make a deal — the return of Seamore in exchange for his friend avoiding the law.
“He needs to take it like a man,” Miller of Sandy’s Sales flea market said Thursday. Seamore, the gorilla, was a permanent fixture outside her store. “He needs to take it seriously and go to the police and turn himself in. The judge would go easier on him.”
An appropriate punishment, Miller suggested, would be to acknowledge what was done, pay restitution for the cost of bringing Seamore home and the cost of repairing any damage to the gorilla and participate in community service.
Miller described what happened when she picked up the telephone Wednesday night — no name was given, she heard just a male voice.
“He said he’d just like to know if I would let him go get the gorilla and deliver it. I guess the kidnapper was going to come with him,” Miller said.
Miller declined. “I didn’t know this guy. How do I know [what might happen] if I give them authorization to get it? He might go bury it somewhere,” she said with a laugh.
Besides, she doesn’t need the kidnapper’s help. Earlier this week, she had made arrangements with Annette Farrington to retrieve the ape. The Waterford woman expects to arrive in East Machias around 1 p.m. Saturday.
Farrington said Thursday that her three boys, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Isaiah — ages 8, 9 and 11 — plan to accompany her and her husband.
But to do so, they needed a “get out of school” pass. “I wrote a note for each one of them to take to their teachers with a picture of Seamore from the Burlington Free Press and I said they needed to be out because we were going to go bring the kidnapped Seamore home,” Farrington said. “They are extremely excited.”
Although the trip will be fun, she said, she also believes there is a lesson in it for her children — that community service should be part of their lives.
The return home should be pretty festive for Seamore. Miller said she asked the Washington County Sheriff’s Department to escort Seamore once she arrived in Machias. She also is hoping to get the University of Maine at Machias ukulele band to play.
The East Machias woman said what upset her most about the theft was the kidnapper’s videos on YouTube. She said he acted like a 5-year-old. “That is what bothered me, like he was getting media attention and enjoying it and insulting us,” she said.
She said the kidnapper even called the Millers’ liars. He said the gorilla was not as tall as Sandy’s husband, Lowell Miller, had claimed or as heavy. “You know what I say? Hey, he [her husband] is almost 80 years old, he is entitled to make a mistake,” she said.
It also bothered her, she said, when the kidnapper claimed he did not understand why everyone was “making such a big deal out of it.”
“Well, you stole my gorilla, I’ve had it 20 years, so that is a big deal,” she said.
The kidnapper took Seamore over the Labor Day weekend from in front of the Route 1 flea market. The Bangor Daily News ran the story and within days Seamore’s escapades became part of the international news scene.
An Ohio gorilla manufacturer read about the theft, put together a YouTube video about Seamore’s plight and offered a $500 reward.
The kidnapper saw the video and posted his own YouTube video saying he was sorry and offering to return Seamore. Sometime during the early morning hours Sunday, Seamore was carried across the dark roads of Vermont and left in a cornfield in Swanton, like an abandoned scarecrow. The Vermont State Police retrieved it.
Although the kidnapper was in full disguise, including his face, the Maine State Police said this week the Vermont police do have a suspect.