Gumby replica kidnapped from Williston home remains missing

Police have no leads in bizarre abduction

By Tom Gresham
Observer staff

The Gumby kidnapping case remains as impossible to break as the pliable claymation character at the center of it.

Barb Giardi said there have been no new developments in the abduction of the 8-foot-tall Gumby replica that she and her husband, Norm Reuss, posted prominently in the front yard of their Spruce Lane home for 14 consecutive winters. The replica of the television character has been missing since the overnight hours of Jan. 27.

The perpetrators left behind a ransom note with such quixotic demands as removing President George W. Bush from office, decriminalizing marijuana and establishing a national holiday in the name of the Blockheads (Gumby’s arch enemies). However, they have not contacted Giardi and Reuss since the abduction.

It is possible the kidnappers have elected to stay underground in light of widespread interest in the case. Giardi said she has been surprised at the public’s reaction to the kidnapping, which was detailed in the Feb. 3 Observer.

“I get asked about it every day,” Giardi said. “Every time I go to work or to the store and somebody recognizes me, they want to know if we’ve gotten it back yet. Unfortunately, nobody has had any information.”

The statue features a beaming Gumby with his left hand raised in a cheerful wave. He is wearing a smart red bow tie. Reuss built the statue, which was paired in the yard this winter with an equally buoyant Frosty the Snowman. The kidnappers’ note included a demand to replace the snowman statue with Pokey, an orange horse and Gumby’s sidekick.

The public appears to have reacted to the theft with the same mixture of humor and regret that Giardi feels.

“People really sympathize with us,” Giardi said. “They think it’s kind of funny and that the ransom note was wacky and stuff, but they also think (the kidnappers) should give it back now.”

Giardi said the kindhearted response of her neighbors and fellow Williston residents has helped ease the disappointment of losing Gumby.

“It has been appreciated,” Giardi said. “To me, it shows we live in a town where people care about each other. Somebody loses something and people are concerned.”

Gumby was the malleable star of a television series that ran from 1957 to 1967. The show was revived for a few years in the 1980s.

Williston Police Chief Ozzie Glidden confirmed last week that there had been “no breaks” in the kidnapping case.

Giardi finds it hard to believe that something as conspicuous as a towering Gumby replica can completely disappear and says she’s hopeful it reemerges soon.

She said her husband has not decided whether he will build another Gumby next winter if the kidnapped version never resurfaces.

“We haven’t talked about it,” Giardi said. “We’re still hoping this one turns up. We hope people keep a lookout for it. They should remember to investigate a little closer if they see a little green poking out from behind something.”