The Botched Kidnapping (And Killing) Of The Coors Beer Heir

The Botched Kidnapping (And Killing) Of The Coors Beer Heir

What other than cheaply produced beer could make it through Prohibition and the Great Depression? The culprits behind the creation of Coors beer, Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler, arrived from Germany in the late 1800s, purchasing the recipe that would make the brand famous from a man named William Silhan. Coors would then buy out Schueler, leaving himself as the face of your uncle's favorite beer. 

Coors would make his first million by the year 1890, a fortune now and certainly life-changing money back then. Coors was making 800 gallons of beer per day, even in hard economic times. When Prohibition hit, he moved the company in a different creative direction-- selling malted milk and porcelain. Cut to 1933, Prohibition's repeal, and a return to selling beer again. Their only involvement with porcelain going forward being when frat boys throw up last night's 12 pack in their toilet.

Flash forward to the 1950s; Adolph Coors had long since passed, and Adolph Coor III or "Ad" Coor, his grandson, was chairman of the Colorado brewery. That is until one day when he went missing. The case would be the subject of FBI hunts, with J. Edgar Hoover even labeling it Operation COORNAP.

Ad Coor seemingly vanished into thin air during his drive to work from his home in Colorado. Enter a milkman passing through the highway; he noticed glasses, clothes, and blood on the cement, and after reporting it, the car was identified as Ad Coor's vehicle. It was later discovered that Coors had tried to help a passenger on the road by the name of Joe Corbett, who had secretly been eyeing Coors' route to work for weeks and decided he wanted a $500,000 piece of the Coors pie. Making his way to Colorado under an alias, Walter Osbourne, Corbett had previously gone to prison for several years after fatally shooting a man, so this wasn't exactly out of the ordinary behavior.

Corbett left a ransom note for Coors' wife asking for one payment of $200,000 and a separate one for $300,000. As a sign that the money was ready, he demanded that an ad be placed in The Denver Post advertising for a tractor


Terrible luck for anyone legitimately looking to sell a tractor, but even worse for the kidnapee whose luck ran out completely. In 1960, nearly seven months after his disappearance, Ad Coors' remains were found in a forest by a hunter who came across a pair of pants with his initials, AC, on them. 

It wasn't long until Corbett was fingered as the killer. Like many murderers have done, he fled to Canada due to his placement on the FBI's Most Wanted Fugitive list. Seen there driving a red Pontiac, he made his way to Vancouver. Police eventually knocked on the door of a hotel room and found Corbett, who immediately admitted his guilt, declaring, "I'm your man." Hey, at least he's… honest? The following year he was convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He'd be released on parole in 1980 and would later take his own life with a gunshot wound to the head in 2009. 

After Coors' death, the company was knee-deep in the mud. It was known that Ad Coor was allergic to beer and had a stutter that his father, Adolph Coor II, did not approve of. This had made Ad's success as his predecessor all that more remarkable despite its tragic end. Who would've thought so much drama existed in the making of this cheap, mediocre beer?

Top Image: Ardfern/Wiki Commons


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