Kidnappers knew this much about Frank Compton: The old guy loved his dog.
He walked the Yorkshire terrier, Sandy, almost every evening around his neighborhood near Stockton, Calif. Compton, 80, has had no other companion since his wife died four years ago.
One day last month, Compton discovered the dog missing. That was not like Sandy, who never left the yard.
Compton was distraught. He searched for Sandy in his pickup truck. He and a neighbor posted fliers saying the dog had disappeared. No luck. Then the phone rang.
An anonymous voice made a chilling demand: If he wanted to see the dog alive again, he had to pay $10,000 in ransom.
Compton, a retired fire warden, did not hesitate. He withdrew much of his life savings from a bank account and brought it to a remote area beside a river without telling police, just as he had been ordered to do. There, he said, a man confronted him with a small knife, took the cash and told him the dog was nearby. Compton looked but did not find him.
Grieving, he drove home -- and spotted Sandy back in his yard, unharmed.
Calaveras County sheriff's detectives say that Compton's account of the crime appears to be credible. They have no suspects.
Compton says he has no regrets about spending so much to get his dog back.
"He's my buddy," he told the Stockton Record. "He'd do the same for me if he could."
-- Rene Sanchez