No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Richard Farnum’s Homecoming – 1957

Photo Caption: TEARFUL FAREWELL – Carol Farnum weeps as she says good-bye to her father, Richard C. Farnum, who took her and two other children from home after he returned to Mississippi to find wife divorced, remarried. Stephen, Carol’s brother, is also held by his father.

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): A Santa Barbara oil field worker was arrested early yesterday as he arrived at International Airport after Gulfport (Miss.) police telegraphed that he had kidnapped his three children from his former wife.

Richard C. Farnum, 34, was booked on suspicion of kidnapping by police who met him when he arrived with his two sons and daughter aboard an American Airlines plane. Later he was released on a writ of habeas corpus returnable March 5 in Superior Court. The three children from a nursing home where his wife, Mrs. Barbara Murphy, had placed them while she went on a honeymoon with her new husband.

“I didn’t even know she was divorcing me,” Farnum protested to police. “I called the day she was getting married and told her I was buying her a house. She didn’t say a thing.

“I came out here last September to work in the oil fields. As soon as I was established she was to join me.

“Then last week a friend called me and said she had married someone else.”

Farnum said he had been living in Santa Barbara with his brother Stephen. The brother and the two men’s mother, Mrs. Blanche Farnum, were at the airport when the plane arrived.

[“Man Held as Kidnapper of his three children; Arrested on Arrival Here From Mississippi With Family on Complaint of Former Wife,” Los Angeles Times (Ca.), Feb. 26, 1957, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Richard O. Farnum, 34, oil rigger accused of kidnapping his three children, yesterday settled his dispute with his former wife by retaining the two older children and allowing her the youngest.

Terms of the compromise were disclosed in Superior Judge Harold W. Schweitzer’s court when Farnum’s petition for guardianship over the children, Stephen, 5; Carroll, 4, and John, 1, was removed from the calendar.

~ Moves to Santa Barbara ~

Farnum’s attorney, Walter H. Young, said that Farnum had moved to Santa Barbara with the two older children and that his former wife, Mrs. Barbara Lee Murphy, had taken back to the home she has established with her new husband, Charles Murphy, in Handsboro, Miss.

The oil worker was arrested here last Feb. 25 upon alighting from an airliner with the three children, who were placed in Juvenile Hall. But in his guardianship petition, Farnum said he had left Handsboro to work in California and that upon his return to bring his wife and children here he had found that she had obtained a divorce and was on her honeymoon with Murphy.

He charged that the divorce decree was illegal because he was not notified and asked that he be given full control over the children.

But the settlement carried his agreement to recognize validity of the divorce. He still must appear before Superior Judge Louis H. Burke April 4, however; for disposition of the extradition request made by Mississippi authorities on the kidnapping charge.

[“Man Accused in Kidnap Case Settles Dispute; Oil Rigger Keeps His Two Older Children and Allows Former Wife the Youngest,” Los Angeles Times, Mar. 21, 1957, part 1, p. 5]


Here is the publication summons placed by the scheming Mrs. Farnum while her husband was out of town preparing a new home for his family:

The trick of using a published service of summons, when the litigant knows the location of the other party, but claims ignorance of same, so that the litigant may get a default judgment, has been common in United States divorces since 1805, when the crooked practices of judges and lawyers in Vermont became a scandal throughout the young nation. (See post: The Origin of Divorce Court Corruption, Vermont Divorces – 1805)

[Biloxi Daily Herald (Miss.), Jan. 7, 1957, p. 15

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