Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
File:Lindbergh baby poster.jpg
Born (1930-06-22)June 22, 1930
Englewood, New Jersey
Died Tuesday, March 1, 1932 (aged 20 months)
Hopewell, New Jersey
Cause of death massive skull fracture
Body discovered May 12, 1932, in Hopewell, New Jersey
Resting place ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean
Other names Lindbergh baby

The kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was one of the most highly publicized crimes of the 20th century. The 20-month-old toddler was abducted from his family home in East Amwell, New Jersey, near the town of Hopewell, New Jersey, on the evening of March 1, 1932. Over two months later, on May 12, 1932, his body was discovered a short distance from the Lindberghs' home.[1] A medical examination determined that the cause of death was a massive skull fracture.[2]

After an investigation that lasted more than two years, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested and charged with the crime. In a trial that was held from January 2 to February 13, 1935, Hauptmann was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. He was executed by electric chair at the New Jersey State Prison on April 3, 1936, at 8:44 in the evening. Hauptmann proclaimed his innocence to the end.[3]

Newspaper writer H. L. Mencken called the kidnapping and subsequent trial "the biggest story since the Resurrection".[4][5] The crime spurred Congress to pass the Federal Kidnapping Act, commonly called the "Lindbergh Law", which made transporting a kidnapping victim across state lines a federal crime.[6]

The crime[edit | edit source]

At 8:00 pm on March 1, 1932, the nurse-maid, Betty Gow, put 20-month-old Charles Lindbergh, Jr. in his crib. She pinned the blanket covering him with two large safety pins so as to prevent it from moving while he slept. At around 9:30 pm, Col. Lindbergh heard a noise that made him think some slats had fallen off an orange crate in the kitchen. At 10:00 pm, Gow discovered that the baby was missing from his crib. She in turn went to ask Mrs. Lindbergh, who was just coming out of the bath, if she had the baby with her.

After not finding Charles Lindbergh, Jr. with his mother, the nurse-maid went downstairs to speak with Lindbergh, who was in the library/study just beneath the baby's nursery room in the southeast corner of the house. Charles Lindbergh then proceeded up to the nursery to see for himself that his son was not in his crib. While surveying the room, he discovered a white envelope had been left on the radiator that formed the window sill.

Lindbergh located his Springfield rifle and searched the rest of the house looking for intruders. Within 20 minutes, the local police were on their way to the Lindbergh house, as were the media and Lindbergh's attorney. A single distinguishable tire indentation was discovered a short time later just below the window in the mud caused by the rainy conditions that day. After authorities began to search the area immediately surrounding the house, they discovered three sections of a smartly designed but rather crude-looking ladder in a nearby cluster of bushes.

The investigation[edit | edit source]

First on the scene was Chief Harry Wolfe of the Hopewell police. Wolfe was soon joined by New Jersey State Police officers. The police searched the home and scoured the surrounding area for miles.

After midnight, a fingerprint expert arrived at the home to examine the note left on the window sill and the ladder. The ladder had 400 partial fingerprints and some footprints left behind. However, most were of no value to the investigation due to the surge of media and police that were present within the first 30 to 60 minutes after the first call for help. During the fingerprint discovery process, not a single fingerprint was found in the room, none from Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh, none from the baby, and none from Betty Gow. Getting any solid evidence outside the house proved to be virtually impossible. The ransom note that was found by Lindbergh was opened and read by the police after they arrived. The brief, handwritten letter was riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical irregularities:

Dear Sir!

Have 50.000$ redy 25.000$ in
20$ bills 15.000$ in 10$ bills and
10.000$ in 5$ bills After 2–4 days
we will inform you were to deliver
the mony.

We warn you for making
anyding public or for notify the Police
The child is in gut care.
Indication for all letters are

and three hohls.[7]
File:Lindbergh Kidnapping Note Signature.png

A re-creation of the mark on the ransom note. The black circles indicate where punctures were made in the paper.

There were two interconnected circles (colored red and blue) below the message, with a hole punched through the red circle and two other holes punched outside the circles.

Word of the kidnapping spread quickly, and, along with police, the well-connected and well-intentioned arrived at the Lindbergh estate. There were military colonels offering their aid, though only one had law enforcement expertise: Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. The other colonels were Henry Skillman Breckinridge, a Wall Street lawyer; William Joseph Donovan (a.k.a. "Wild Bill" Donovan, a hero of the First World War who would later head the OSS). Lindbergh and these men believed that the kidnapping was perpetrated by organized crime figures. The letter, they thought, seemed written by someone who spoke German as his native language. Charles Lindbergh, at this time, used his influence to control the direction of the investigation.[8]

They contacted Mickey Rosner, a Broadway hanger-on rumored to know mobsters. Rosner, in turn, brought in two speakeasy owners: Salvatore "Salvy" Spitale and Irving Bitz. Lindbergh quickly endorsed the duo and appointed them his intermediaries to deal with the mob. Unknown to Lindbergh, however, Bitz and Spitale were actually in cahoots with the New York Daily News, a paper which hoped to use the duo to scoop other newspapers in the race for leads in the kidnapping story.[citation needed]

File:Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf NYWTS.jpg

Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf

Several organized crime figures – notably Al Capone — spoke from prison, offering to help return the baby to his family in exchange for money or for legal favors. Specifically, Capone offered assistance in return for being released from prison under the guise that his assistance would be more effective. This was quickly denied by the authorities.

The morning after the kidnapping, U.S. President Herbert Hoover was notified of the crime. Though the case did not seem to have any grounds for federal involvement (kidnapping then being classified as a local crime), Hoover declared that he would "move Heaven and Earth" to recover the missing child. The Bureau of Investigation (not yet called the FBI) was authorized to investigate the case, while the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Immigration Service and the Washington, D.C., police were told their services might be required. New Jersey officials announced a $25,000 reward for the safe return of "Little Lindy". The Lindbergh family offered an additional $50,000 reward of their own. The total reward of $75,000 was made even more significant by the fact that the offer was made during the early days of the Great Depression.

A few days after the kidnapping, a new ransom letter arrived at the Lindbergh home via the mail. Postmarked in Brooklyn, the letter was genuine, carrying the perforated red and blue marks. Police wanted to examine the letter, but instead Lindbergh gave it to Rosner, who said he would pass it on to his supposed mob associates. In actuality, the note went back to the Daily News, where someone photographed it. Before long, copies of the ransom note were being sold on street corners throughout New York for $5 each. Any ransom letters received after this one were therefore automatically suspect.

A second ransom note then arrived by mail, also postmarked from Brooklyn. Ed Mulrooney, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, suggested that, given two Brooklyn postmarks, the kidnappers were probably working out of that area. Mulrooney told Lindbergh that his officers could surveil postal letterboxes in Brooklyn, and that a device could be placed inside each letterbox to isolate the letters in sequence as they were dropped in, to help track down anyone who might be tied to the case. If Lindbergh, Jr. was being held in Brooklyn by the kidnappers, Mulrooney insisted that such a plan might help locate the child as well. Mulrooney was willing to go to great lengths, including organizing a police raid to rescue the baby. Lindbergh strongly disapproved of the plan. He feared for his son's life and warned Mulrooney that if such a plan was carried out, Lindbergh would use his considerable influence to ruin Mulrooney's career.[citation needed] Reluctantly, Mulrooney acquiesced.

The day after Lindbergh rejected Mulrooney's plan, a third letter was mailed. It too came from Brooklyn. This letter warned that since the police were now involved in the case, the ransom had been raised to $70,000.

John Condon aka "Jafsie"[edit | edit source]

During this time, a well-known Bronx personality and retired school teacher, John F. Condon—subsequently known as Jafsie (a pseudonym based on a phonetic pronunciation of Condon's initials, "J.F.C.")—wrote a letter to the Bronx Home News,[9] proclaiming his willingness to help the Lindbergh case in any way he could, and added $1000 of his own money to the reward. Condon received a letter in care of the Home News reportedly written by the kidnappers. It was marked with the punctured red-and-blue circles, and authorized Condon as their intermediary with Lindbergh.[10] Lindbergh accepted the letter as genuine as, at the time, neither man seemed to know that copies of the first mailed ransom letter were being sold by the hundreds.[11]

Following the latest letter's instructions, Condon placed a classified ad in the New York American: "Money is Ready. Jafsie". Condon then waited for further instructions from the culprits.[9]

A meeting between "Jafsie" and a representative of the group that claimed to be the kidnappers was eventually scheduled for late one evening at Woodlawn Cemetery. According to Condon, the man sounded foreign but stayed in the shadows during the conversation, and he was thus unable to get a close look at his face. The man said his name was John, and he related his story: he was a "Scandinavian" sailor, part of a gang of three men and two women. The Lindbergh child was unharmed and being held on a boat, but the kidnappers were still not ready to return him or receive the ransom. When Condon expressed doubt that "John" actually had the baby, he promised some proof: the kidnapper would soon return the baby's sleeping suit. The stranger asked Condon, "... would I burn [be executed], if the package [baby] were dead?" When questioned further, he assured Condon that the baby was alive. Lindbergh had insisted that Mulrooney not be informed, and so "John" was not followed by police after the meeting.[citation needed] The New York Police were by now aware of the "Jafsie" newspaper advertisements and wanted to know who the mysterious Jafsie was, but Lindbergh refused to say anything.

On March 16, 1932, John Condon received a package by mail that contained a toddler's sleeping suit, which was sent as proof of their claim, and a seventh ransom note.[12] Condon showed the sleeping suit to Lindbergh, who identified it as belonging to his son. After the delivery of the sleeping suit, Condon took out a new ad in the Home News declaring, "Money is ready. No cops. No secret service. I come alone, like last time." One month after the child was kidnapped, on April 1, 1932, Condon received a letter from the reported kidnappers. They were ready to accept payment.

Payment of the ransom[edit | edit source]

The ransom was packaged in a wooden box that was custom-made in the hope that it could later be identified. The ransom money itself was made up with a number of gold certificates that were to be withdrawn from circulation in the near future. It was hoped that anyone passing large amounts of gold notes would draw attention to themselves and help aid in identifying the abductors.[3][13] Also, while the bills themselves were not marked, the serial number of each bill was recorded.

The next evening, April 2, Condon was given a note by cab driver Raymond Perrone, who said he had been paid by a man to deliver the note. This note was the first in a series of convoluted instructions that led Condon and Lindbergh all over Manhattan. Eventually, they were sent to St. Raymond's Cemetery. Condon met a man he thought might have been "John" and told him that they had been able to raise only $50,000. The man accepted the money and gave Condon a note. Lindbergh, who saw the man only from a distance, had insisted the police not be informed of the meeting, and the suspect got away without being followed.[14]

The note given to Condon stated that the child was being held on a boat called the Nelly at Martha's Vineyard.[12] The child was supposedly in the care of two women who, according to the note, were innocent. Lindbergh went there and searched the piers; however, there was no boat called the Nelly. A desperate Lindbergh took to flying an airplane low over the piers in an attempt to startle the kidnappers into showing themselves. After two days, Lindbergh admitted he had been fooled.[9]

Discovery of the body[edit | edit source]

On May 12, 1932, delivery truck driver William Allen pulled his truck to the side of a road about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the Lindbergh home. He went to a grove of trees to urinate, and there he discovered the corpse of a toddler.[15] Allen notified police, who took the body to a morgue in nearby Trenton, New Jersey. The body was badly decomposed, and it was discovered that the skull was badly fractured. The left leg and both hands were missing, and there were signs that the body had been chewed on by various animals as well as indications that someone had made an attempt to hastily bury the body.[2][15] Lindbergh and Gow quickly identified the baby as the missing infant based on the overlapping toes of the right foot and the shirt that Gow had made for the baby. They surmised that the child had been killed by a blow to the head. Mr. Lindbergh was insistent on having the body cremated afterward.[16]

Once the U.S. Congress learned that the child was dead, legislation was rushed making kidnapping a federal crime. The FBI could now aid the case more directly.

In June 1932, officials began to suspect an "inside job", in that someone the Lindberghs trusted may have betrayed the family. Suspicions fell upon Violet Sharp, a British household servant at the Morrow home. She had given contradictory testimony regarding her whereabouts on the night of the kidnapping. It was reported that she acted nervous and suspicious when questioned. She committed suicide on June 20, 1932, by ingesting a silver polish that contained potassium cyanide just prior to what would have been her fourth time being questioned.[17][18] After her alibi was confirmed, it was later determined that the possible threat of losing her job and the intense questioning had driven her to commit suicide. At the time, the police investigators were criticized for what some felt were the "heavy handed" police tactics used.[19]

Following the death of Violet Sharp, John Condon was also questioned by police. Condon's home was searched as well, but nothing was found that tied Condon to the crime. Charles Lindbergh stood by Condon during this time as well.[20]

John Condon's unofficial investigation[edit | edit source]

After the discovery of the body, John Condon remained unofficially involved in the case. To the public, he had become a suspect and in some circles vilified.[14] For the next two years, he visited police departments and pledged to find "Cemetery John". During this time, Condon would frequently take a rowboat out into Long Island Sound to have "secret meetings with informants".[9][14]

Condon's actions regarding the case were becoming increasingly flamboyant. On one occasion, while riding a city bus, he saw a suspect and, announcing his secret identity, ordered the bus to a stop. The startled driver complied, and Condon darted from the bus, though Condon's target eluded him. Another time, he dressed as a woman for his clandestine activities, with a collar pulled up to hide his handlebar mustache.[citation needed] Tiring of Condon's interference, the police threatened to charge him as an accomplice to the crime.[citation needed] John Condon's actions were also criticized as exploitative when he agreed to appear in a vaudeville act regarding the kidnapping.[21] Liberty magazine published a serialized account of John Condon's involvement in the Lindbergh kidnapping under the title "Jafsie Tells All".[22]

Tracking the ransom money[edit | edit source]

Investigation of the case was soon in the doldrums. There were no developments and little evidence of any sort, so police turned their attention to tracking the ransom payments. A pamphlet was prepared with the serial numbers on the ransom bills, and 250,000 copies were distributed to businesses mainly in New York City.[12][13] A few of the ransom bills turned up in scattered locations, some as far away as Chicago and Minneapolis, but the people spending them were never found.

File:United States ten dollar gold certificate.jpg

An example of a 1928 series $10 Gold Certificate

As per Executive Order 6102, Gold Certificates were to be turned in by May 1, 1933.[23] A few days before the deadline, a man in Manhattan brought in $2,990 of the ransom money to be exchanged. The bank was busy and no one could remember anything specific about the person. He had filled out a required form, which gave his name as J. J. Faulkner. The address supplied was 537 West 149th Street in New York City.[13]

When authorities visited the address, they learned that no one named Faulkner had lived there – or anywhere nearby – for many years. U.S. Treasury officials kept looking and eventually learned that a woman named Jane Faulkner had lived at the address in question in 1913. She had moved after she married a German man named Geissler. The couple was tracked down, and both denied any involvement in the crime.

Capture of a suspect[edit | edit source]

Main article: Bruno Hauptmann

Bruno Richard Hauptmann

For thirty months, New York Police Detective James J. Finn and FBI Agent Thomas Sisk had been working on the Lindbergh case. They had been able to track down many bills from the ransom money that were being spent in places throughout New York City. A map created by Finn recorded each find and eventually showed that many of the bills were being passed mainly along the route of the Lexington Avenue subway. This subway line connected the East Bronx with the east side of Manhattan, including the German-Austrian neighborhood of Yorkville.[3]

On September 18, 1934, a gold certificate from the ransom money was referred to Detective Finn and Agent Sisk.[3] Although President Roosevelt had issued an executive order on April 5, 1933, calling for all gold certificates to be turned in by May 1, 1933, under the penalty of fine or imprisonment,[23] some members of the public held on to them past the deadline.[24] As of July 31, 1934, $161 million in gold certificates were still in general circulation.[citation needed] The ten dollar gold certificate was discovered by a teller of the Corn Exchange Bank of the Bronx.[3][12] It had a New York license plate, 4U-13-14- N.Y, penciled in the margin, which helped the investigators trace the bill to a gas station in upper Manhattan. The station manager, Walter Lyle, had written down the license plate number as per company policy, feeling that his customer was acting "suspicious" and was "possibly a counterfeiter".[3][12][13][25]

It was found that the license plate number belonged to a blue Dodge sedan owned by Bruno Richard Hauptmann of 1279 East 222nd Street in the Bronx.[3] Hauptmann was found to be a German immigrant with a criminal record in his homeland. When Hauptmann was arrested, he had on his person a twenty dollar gold certificate.[3][12] A search by police of Hauptmann's home found $1,830 of the ransom money hidden behind a board. Another $11,930 was found in a can near a window in the garage.[3] During the police investigation, the garage that Hauptmann had built was torn down in the search for the money.[26]

Hauptmann was arrested by Finn; he was interrogated, as well as beaten at least once, throughout the day and night that followed.[13] The money, Hauptmann stated, along with other items, had been left with him by friend and former business partner Isidor Fisch. Fisch had died on March 29, 1934, shortly after returning to Germany.[3] Only following Fisch's death, Hauptmann stated, did he learn that the shoe box left with him contained a considerable sum of money. He took the money because he claimed that it was owed to him from a business deal that he and Fisch had made.[3] Hauptmann consistently denied any connection to the crime or knowledge that the money in his house was from the ransom.

In the search of his apartment by police, a considerable amount of additional evidence that he was involved in the crime surfaced. One item was a notebook that contained a sketch for the construction of a collapsible ladder similar to that which was found at the Lindbergh home in March 1932. John Condon's telephone number, along with his address, were discovered written down on a closet wall in the house. A key linking piece of evidence, a piece of wood, was discovered in the attic of the home. After being examined by an expert, it was determined to be an exact match to the wood used in the construction of the ladder found at the scene of the crime. This particular wood was also traced back to the saw mill where the lumber was processed in South Carolina.

Hauptmann was indicted in the Bronx on September 24, 1934, for extorting the $50,000 ransom from Charles Lindbergh.[3] Two weeks later, on October 8, 1934, Hauptmann was indicted in New Jersey for the murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr.[12] Two days later, he was surrendered to New Jersey authorities by New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman to face charges directly related to the kidnapping and murder of the child. Hauptmann was moved to the Hunterdon County Jail in Flemington, New Jersey, on October 19, 1934.[12]

The trial[edit | edit source]

File:Hunterdon County Courthouse.jpg

The old Hunterdon County Courthouse, site of the trial

Hauptmann was charged with extortion and murder. Conviction on even one charge could earn him the death penalty. He pleaded not guilty.

Held at the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, New Jersey, the trial soon became a sensation: reporters swarmed the town, and every hotel room was booked.

In exchange for rights to publish Hauptmann's story in their newspaper, Edward J. Reilly was hired by the Daily Mirror to serve as Hauptmann's attorney. Two other lawyers, Lloyd Fisher and Frederick Pope, were co-counselors. David T. Wilentz, Attorney General of New Jersey, led the prosecution.

In addition to Hauptmann's possession of $14,590 of the ransom money, the State introduced evidence showing a striking similarity between Hauptmann's handwriting and the handwriting on the ransom notes. Eight different handwriting experts (Albert S. Osborn, Elbridge W. Stein, John F. Tyrrell, Herbert J. Walter, Harry M. Cassidy, Wilmer T. Souder, Albert D. Osborn, and Clark Sellers)[27] were called by the prosecution to the witness stand, where they pointed out similarities between words and letters in the ransom notes and in Hauptmann's writing specimens (which included documents written before he was arrested, such as automobile registration applications). One expert (John M. Trendley) was called by the defense to rebut this evidence, while two others (Samuel C. Malone and Arthur P. Meyers) declined to testify at the trial.[27] The latter two demanded $500 for their services before even looking at the notes and were promptly dismissed when Defense Lawyer Fisher declined to render such an amount.[28]

Based on the forensic work of Arthur Koehler at the Forest Products Laboratory, the State also introduced photographic evidence demonstrating that the wood from the ladder left at the crime scene matched a plank from the floor of Hauptmann's attic: the type of wood, the direction of tree growth, the milling pattern at the factory, the inside and outside surface of the wood, and the grain on both sides were identical, and two oddly placed nail holes lined up with a joist splice in Hauptmann's attic. Additionally, the prosecutors noted that Condon's address and telephone number had been found written in pencil on a closet door in Hauptmann's home. Hauptmann himself admitted in a police interview that he had written Condon's address on the closet door: "I must have read it in the paper about the story. I was a little bit interested and keep a little bit record of it, and maybe I was just on the closet, and was reading the paper and put it down the address." When asked about Condon's telephone number, he could respond only, "I can't give you any explanation about the telephone number."

The defense did not challenge the identification of the body, a common practice in murder cases at the time designed to avoid exposing the jury to an intense analysis of the body and its condition.

File:Charles Lindbergh testifying.jpg

Lindbergh on the witness stand

Condon and Lindbergh both testified that Hauptmann was "John". Another witness, Amandus Hochmuth, testified that he saw Hauptmann near the scene of the crime.

Hauptmann was ultimately convicted of the crimes and sentenced to death. His appeals were rejected, though New Jersey Governor Harold G. Hoffman granted a temporary reprieve of Hauptmann's execution and made the politically unpopular move of having the New Jersey Board of Pardons review the case. They found no reason to issue a pardon.

Hauptmann turned down a $90,000 offer from a Hearst newspaper for a confession and refused a last-minute offer to commute his execution to a life sentence in exchange for a confession.

He was electrocuted on April 3, 1936, just over four years after the kidnapping.

Controversy[edit | edit source]

As have other notorious crimes, the Lindbergh kidnapping has attracted hoaxes and alternative theories.

Hoaxes during the investigation[edit | edit source]

While the baby was still missing, at least two separate men, Gaston Means and John Hughes Curtis, came forward with false claims that they were associates of the kidnappers. Gaston Means, who was a former FBI agent and conman, was convicted of larceny after extorting $100,000 from Washington D.C. socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean. McLean had provided Means the money in an attempt to pay a ransom for the return of Charles, Jr., the Lindberghs' son. Means was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and died in custody in 1938.[19] John Curtis, a respected boat builder in Norfolk, Virginia, also made claims that he was in contact with the kidnappers. Curtis even claimed that at one point he had held the baby in his arms. After the child's body was found, Curtis confessed that his stories were false and were brought about by "financial pressures". He was fined and given a one year suspended sentence.[29]

The Lindberghs were the victims of several other pranks and claims about their baby. Even today, several people assert that they are the Lindbergh baby.[30]

Review of the evidence[edit | edit source]

Erastus Mead Hudson was a fingerprint expert who knew the then-rare silver nitrate process of collecting fingerprints off wood and other surfaces on which the previous powder method could not detect fingerprints. He found that Hauptmann's fingerprints were not on the wood, even in places that the man who made the ladder would have had to touch. Upon reporting this to a police officer and stating that they must look further, the officer said, "Good God, don't tell us that, Doctor!" The ladder was then washed of all fingerprints, and Schwarzkopf refused to make it public that Hauptmann's prints were not on the ladder.[31]

Several books have been written proclaiming Hauptmann's innocence. These books variously criticize the police for allowing the crime scenes to become contaminated, Lindbergh and his associates for interfering with the investigation, Hauptmann's trial lawyers for ineffectively representing him, and the reliability of the witnesses and the physical evidence presented at the trial. Ludovic Kennedy in particular questioned much of the evidence, such as the origin of the ladder and the testimony of many of the witnesses. A recent book on the case, A Talent to Deceive by British investigative writer William Norris, not only declares Hauptmann's innocence but also accuses Lindbergh of a cover-up of the killer's true identity. The book points the finger of blame at Dwight Morrow, Jr., Lindbergh's brother-in-law.[citation needed]

At least one modern author does not agree with these theories. Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and professor at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania,[32] has written two books on the subject, The Lindbergh Case (1987)[33] and The Ghosts of Hopewell (1999)[34] to address, at least in part, what he calls a "revision movement" regarding the case.[35] In these texts, he provides an interpretation discussing both the pros and cons of the evidence presented at trial. He summarizes his conclusions thus: "Today, the Lindbergh phenomena [sic] is a giant hoax perpetrated by people who are taking advantage of an uninformed and cynical public. Notwithstanding all of the books, TV programs, and legal suits, Hauptmann is as guilty today as he was in 1932 when he kidnapped and killed the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh."[36]

In 2005, the truTV television program Forensic Files conducted a re-examination of the physical evidence in the kidnapping using more modern scientific techniques. Kelvin Keraga concluded that the ladder used in the kidnapping was made from wood that had previously been part of Hauptmann's attic.[37] Three forensic document examiners, Grant Sperry, Gideon Epstein, and Peter E. Baier, PhD, worked independently of each other. Sperry concluded that it was "highly probable" that the kidnapper's notes were written by Hauptmann.[38] Epstein concluded "there was overwhelming evidence that the notes were written by one person and that one person was Richard Bruno Hauptmann."[39] Baier wrote that Hauptmann "probably" wrote the notes, but that "Looking at all these findings no definite and unambiguous conclusion can be drawn."[40] The program concluded that Hauptmann had indeed been guilty, but it noted that many questions remained, such as how he could have known that the Lindberghs would be remaining in Hopewell during the week.[citation needed]

Robert Zorn's 2012 book, Cemetery John, proposes that Hauptmann was the foot soldier in a conspiracy with two other German-born men, John and Walter Knoll. Zorn's father, economist Eugene Zorn, had been investigating an incident from his teen years that convinced him he had witnessed the conspiracy being discussed. After the elder Zorn's death, son Robert continued the investigation.[41]

The Lindbergh kidnapping represented in the arts[edit | edit source]

In Music


  • May 1932: Just one day after the Lindbergh baby was discovered murdered, the prolific country recording artist Bob Miller (under the pseudonym Bob Ferguson) recorded two songs for Columbia on May 13, 1932, commemorating the event. The songs were released on Columbia 15759-D with the titles "Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr." and "There's a New Star Up in Heaven (Baby Lindy Is Up There)".[42]
  • June 2002: The Opera Theatre of St. Louis premiered a new opera by the American composer, Cary John Franklin, entitled "Loss of Eden." The opera commemorated the centennial of Lindbergh's birth, and the 75th anniversary of his Atlantic crossing, and was a musical reflection on Lindbergh's public triumph and personal tragedy. Later, the composer reworked some of the music into a chamber work entitled "Falls Flyer." The music in the opening section of the piece is derived from the music in the major dramatic moments of the opera--the plane departing for Paris, the kidnapping, and the execution of Bruno Hauptmann.
In Novels
  • January 1934: Agatha Christie was inspired by circumstances of the case when she described the kidnapping of baby girl Daisy Armstrong in her 1934 Hercule Poirot novel Murder on the Orient Express, including a parallel of the death of Violet Sharpe.
  • 1972: In Tom Tryon's novel and film The Other the Lindbergh kidnapping is mentioned several times, and Rider and Torrie's baby is kidnapped in a similar manner.
  • 1981: The kidnapping and its aftermath served as the inspiration for Maurice Sendak's book Outside Over There.
  • 1991: Stolen Away by Max Allan Collins is a thorough treatment of the case from the point of view of a fictional detective. The author examines several possible solutions and provides considerable support for one.
  • 2004: In Philip Roth's novel The Plot Against America, the narrator describes theories about the kidnapping – most notably, the possibility that prominent Nazis were responsible and used the kidnapping to extort the Lindberghs into expressing some admiration for and defense of the policies of Nazi Germany. According to this theory (which the narrator neither accepts nor rejects), the baby is brought to Germany where he is adopted into a Nazi family and becomes a member of the Hitler Youth, unaware of his true background.
In Languages
  • In Spanish, the expression "Estar más perdido que el hijo de Lindbergh" (to be more lost than Lindbergh's child) means "to be clueless"
In Film/Television

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gill, Barbara (1981). "Lindbergh kidnapping rocked the world 50 years ago". The Hunterdon County Democrat. Retrieved December 30, 2008. "So while the world's attention was focused on Hopewell, from which the first press dispatches emanated about the kidnapping, the Democrat made sure its readers knew that the new home of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was in East Amwell Township Hunterdon County." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Aiuto, Russell. "The Theft of the Eaglet". The Lindbergh Kidnapping. TruTv. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Linder, Douglas (2005). "The Trial of Richard "Bruno" Hauptmann: An Account". University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  5. Newton, Michael (2012). The FBI Encyclopedia. NC, USA: McFarland. pp. 197. ISBN 978-0-7864-6620-7. 
  6. Glass, Andrew (March 26, 2007). "This Day on Capitol Hill: February 13". The Politico. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  7. Robert Zorn (2012). Cemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping. The Overlook Press. p. 68. ISBN 9781590208564. 
  8. Fass, Paula S. (1997). "The Nation's Dead":The Lindbergh Case page 100. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved June 28, 2009. 
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  16. "Murdered Child's Body Now Reduced to Pile of Ashes". The Evening Independent. May 14, 1932.,6641444&dq=lindbergh+baby+creamation&hl=en. 
  17. Lindbergh, Anne. Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.
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  27. 27.0 27.1 Fisher, Jim (September 1, 1994). The Lindbergh Case. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2147-5. 
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  30. Website of Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., who purports to be the "Lindbergh baby".
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  37. Testimony in Wood, Summary Report 1.2, 2005, pages 10 and 32
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  43. Jagernauth, Kevin (December 23, 2010). "Exclusive: Damon Herriman Joins Clint Eastwood’s 'J. Edgar'". indieWire. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  44. Rich, Katey. "Stephen Root Will Play A Wood Expert In Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar". Cinema Blend. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 

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