Photo by Brent E. Anderson, Rocket Staff
ASTRO CITY — A kidnapping attempt was foiled today in the City Center district, by a flying woman who appeared to resemble Beautie, the popular fashion doll.
Joanie Wheaton, 11, the daughter of Charles Wheaton, owner of financial giant Wheaton Investments, was alone in her parents' city pied-a-terre while her parents conducted business in nearby Binderbeck Plaza. The girl was watching television when several armed gunmen broke in to the apartment, apparently intent on capturing Miss Wheaton and holding her for ransom.
In the subsequent struggle, however, Ms. Wheaton ran for the balcony, and one of the gunmen, attempting to restrain her, managed to knock her over the balcony rail. It appeared that the child would fall to her death, but she was caught by a flying, pink-haired woman wearing an overcoat over a one-piece bathing suit of the style worm by the basic Beautie doll, sold by the millions throughout the world.
"It was crazy," said Barbara M. Roberts, 26, of Willows, Wisc. "I'm here from out of town, and I hoped to see Starwoman or the Silver Agent or someone, but this was so weird. And I used to have a bathing suit just like that!"
Some witnesses reported that the flying woman was made up to look like a Beautie doll, and others that she actually was an oversized doll—that her arms and legs were jointed, and her body seemed to be made of plastic.
"They're bananas," said Kenneth Carson, another tourist. "She's a goof-o for sure, dressing up like a kid's toy, but she's a real person."
"She's a swingin' kitty from Robot City," said Robert Haney, of Goldwater Heights. "Hey, super-people, aliens, monstersÉ.what's so weird about a genuine living doll?"
"I just want to know if she can introduce me to G.I. Joe," said Charmaine Schultz, 42, of Fass Gardens. "Now he's my idea of a real man. Rowr-rr!"
Reporters managed to snap photographs of the doll-like woman (or woman-like doll) as she exited the apartment building with the Wheatons, but could not agree on whether she was an artificial being or just a convincing imitation.
"We're just happy she was able to save our little girl," said Margaret Wheaton after the incident. "Beyond that, she's entitled to her privacy. Anything we can ever do for her, believe me, we'll do it." Police investigators ruled out the idea of attempted murder, saying that from reconstruction of the scuffle in the apartment, it was clearly an accident that Joanie Wheaton went over the balcony. "These guys had no reason to kill," said patrolman Charles Williams. "They're part of a kidnap mob we've been after for a while, and we know their patterns. The lab boys found the carpet rucked up at just the right point, and shoe polish on it. The guy tripped. They're going away for their crime, but the little girl falling was an accident."
Wheaton Investments has been in the news of late, due to their troubled financial situation, which turned out to be illusory, a sham created by agents said to be working for the "Mad Maharajah." His interest in Wheaton Investments is unknown, but many investment firms were apparently caught up in the same web, a web that was shredded publicly by the Silver Agent and southwestern hero Supersonic only three months ago.
"It's possible the kidnappers were working for some bigger fish in the shadows," spokesmen for the D.A.'s office report, "but we see no indication of it so far. Still, we'll continue to investigate, and [continued on page A19]