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Daily Apocrypha Hostage Crisis Resolved; Editor and Staff FreedWashington, D.C.-- There were strained smiles traded as the journalistic staff of The Daily Apocrypha arrived at the FBI Building to thank the Bureau for its efforts during the four month hostage ordeal at the newspaper. The Negotiations Strategies Task Force, under Deputy Assistant Director Edlin H. Wetherby, was "instrumental in keeping the crisis going as long as it did," said Cathy Rudolph, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Apocrypha.
The crisis began on July 8, when alleged hostage taker Tobert Reinwold, an unemployed UNIX programmer from Hackensack, New Jersey, entered The Daily Apocrypha newsroom and claimed to have a bomb in his sportsbag. "At first, I don't think he knew what he wanted, as if he hadn't thought that far ahead," recalls Josyah Wilton Danfield, staff writer and columnist for the paper. "That gave us a chance to phone out to other departments and have the rest of the building cleared. But there wasn't any way for those of us in the newsroom to leave."
Within a few minutes Reinwold had settled on a series of demands, one of which was to have a lengthy account of his life serialized on the paper's pages. "None of us were particularly enamoured of the idea of having him tell us his life's story," said Desirée Abilene Murphy, Senior Staff Writer at The Daily Apocrypha. "Then he began kicking the duffle bag he'd brought in. He said he'd keep kicking it until it blew up. I guess we all decided we'd rather record a nutcase's story than be blown to Kingdom Come."
Those employees who had escaped from the building notified the police, who in turn contacted the FBI. Wetherby' Task Force opened negotiations with Reinwold, acceding to his demands for soda, pizza, blankets, a television, a VCR, and a selection of video tapes. In return, Reinwold permitted the journalists to continue to work on their stories, posting them over the Internet to a sister paper in a nearby town, provided that there was no mention of the ongoing hostage crisis.
But on July 14th the paper carried a story about an injunction on sales of Beanie Baby toys in cabs in the Hackensack, New Jersey area. "My sources had called me with the details, I'd interviewed a few of the principals by phone, and then I'd written it up," relates staff writer Carly Wheater Sullivan. "Reinwold went ballistic when he saw the edition. He started drop-kicking that bag and screaming about how *he* was from Hackensack, and that we were sending coded messages to the outside."
Reinwold's new demand was that The Daily Apocrypha cease publication immediately, or the explosive device would be detonated. Wetherby agreed to the demand, over the objections of Editor-in-Chief Cathy Rudolph, and when Rudolph refused to abide by Wetherby's decision, the FBI cut the paper's internet and phone line access, leaving only one line for the hostage taker's use. "Reinwold was clearly delusional," recalls Rudolph. "He started talking to an imaginary person next to him, then introduced the empty space of air as 'Rod Serling'. I began to wonder just how far away they'd find pieces of me."
The end of the crisis came last Friday, when Reinwold was watching a video tape of the World Series. "She watched the game with him," said newspaper intern Trevor James of Editor Rudolph, "and began to talk about how you couldn't get decent hot dogs at the ball games any more, how the ones with the really good flavor were this particular brand from this little place that she knew of three blocks over. She kept talking about the great old-time flavor of hot dogs, like from the bowling alley when she was in a teenagers' bowling league, and the hostage guy began nodding his head and getting all excited and misty-eyed. She just kept talking, and he wanted to call the FBI and have them go get some, and she kept talking, and the next thing I knew she'd gotten him to agree to the two of them sneaking off to the deli to get a few hot dogs."
Reinwold was forcibly restrained by police as he emerged from the building. The duffle bag that he had brought with him was examined by the department's bomb squad, and found to contain C4 explosive and a timer. "The only reason [the timer] didn't set it off is that the guy used some cheap off-brand batteries that had been sitting on a store shelf somewhere for years, probably. The batteries were dead as a doornail," opined Nataly Arelinson, Explosives Specialist.
Editor-in-Chief Cathy Rudolph was philosophical about the ordeal, particularly after catching up with the backlog of news events that had happened during their news 'blackout'. "We were held hostage by an alleged madman, the rest of the Nation was held hostage by an alleged Independent Prosecutor. We got free pizza and soda during our captivity--what did the rest of the Nation get?"
Reported by the Daily Apocrypha News Staff. All rights reserved. © 1998.
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