Couple leaping for joy over return of frog

by Azell Murphy Cavaan
The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 23, 1998

Somebody call Inter-tadpole. While the international crime fighting agency usually goes after world-class criminals, this case of a globe-hopping frog needs high powered sleuths.

"We don't know who kidnapped the amphibian," said Swansea Police Chief Raymond Jacome, clearing a frog from his throat. He added: "Technically, we could be looking at larceny of a frog. But I think it holds up much better as a joke."

Frognapped nine months ago from the lawn he called home for more than eight years, "Phil" returned home Monday - just as mysteriously as he disappeared.

But with a lot more class.

Phil, who sent his owners postcards and pictures of himself from all over the world during his odyssey with an unknown abductor, returned home in a 28-foot, white, stretch limousine - plush with all the trimmings.

"It seems he's been living the high life," said Gertrude Knight, Phil's perplexed owner.

"We're glad he's back and so is Phyllis."

Phyllis is Phil's better half.

For eight years, the love frogs sat side-by-side on a masonry cement loveseat underneath the shade of a multi-colored ceramic umbrella on Gertrude and John Knight's front lawn in Swansea. But the peace and tranquility shared by the webbed-footed duo ended abruptly when Phil was kidnapped a few days before Easter.

Phyllis, the only eyewitness to the crime, was too distraught by the whole episode to offer authorities any clues. But if Phyllis was feeling a tad bit blue at first, she must have soon become green with envy as letters from Phil began arriving at the Knight's
home.

First there was the one from Maryland: "Sick of sitting on your front lawn. Had to get away. Love, The Frog."

Among the 13 postcards and 12 letters that came to the Knight's home was a card from Zurich and another from London. Most cards were accompanied by a picture of Phil kicked back and enjoying the exotic sights of places like Indonesia and Italy.

"He's just been all over," said Gert Knight, who intends on keeping the well-traveled amphibian inside the house for a while. "Sometimes we wish the frognapper took us with him instead of Phil."

Experts are just as puzzled as the Knights. No one is leaping to conclusions but Caroline Newberger, a Brookline psychologist, offered this profile of the frognapper. "I'd say it's a very friendly person and maybe a practical joker," said Newberger, who has helped hundreds of children recover from traumatic experiences but never a frog.

But the Knights, whose lawn is always littered with colorful ornaments, say they know of no practical jokers. "We have no clue who is behind this," chuckled Gert Knight. "But there certainly are people who are tickled pink by the case."

Not even the limousine driver who picked The Frog up from in front of City Hall and drove him home Monday could offer any clues. "All he noticed was that the guy who put the frog in the limo had dark hair and a pony-tail," said Skip Shoemaker, owner of Skip Around Limousine.

The frognapper, who called and requested that the agency send its best limo to pick up a Mr. Frog, did not pay by credit card and left no name or telephone number. "We asked him how we should expect payment and he said not to worry, there'd be something in the mail."

But whatever gift the frognapper may have in store for Skip Around Limousine, it cannot compare to the gift he or she or they have given the Knights.

"My husband recently had lung surgery and I think he's recovering a lot faster because of this," said Gert Knight. "We just laugh and laugh every time we think about it."

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