SHARON, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – The Sharon Historical Society is giving new eyes to a local kidnapping in the early 1900s.

A new, historical reprint of The Kidnapping of Billy Whitla is being released by the Historical Society, along with a lecture to discuss the history of the book.

The book tells the historical story of the 1909 kidnapping of Billy Whitla, giving readers new details on the case, such as photographs and follow-ups after the story.

Billy Whitla, the 8-year-old son of an attorney in Sharon, was kidnapped by two people who appeared at the East Ward School. Hours later, a ransom note was received by his parents, demanding $10,000 and closing with the note, “Dead boys are not desirable.”

After the father delivered $10,000 to a woman at a drugstore, Billy was released unharmed and put on a streetcar in Cleveland, where he was reunited with his father at the city’s Hollenden Hotel.

James and Helen Boyle were arrested in Cleveland the next day, with $9,790 of the money. James Boyle was given a life sentence and died in prison.

The lecture program will be hosted on Thursday, April 13 by Taylor Galaska, the president of the Board of Directors at the Sharon Historical Society. The lecture hopes to give a sneak peek of the book, as well as educate people about the kidnapping.

The free lecture, which is open to the public and does not require reservations or tickets, will
take place at the Armory for the Arts, 49 South Sharpsville Avenue, Sharon, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Society’s newest book, The Kidnapping of Billy Whitla, will be for sale before and after the
lecture, or online at

Chelsea Simeon contributed to this report.