The Lindbergh Kidnapping

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Imagine that a twenty month old baby has been stolen from his parents. Imagine the horror! Why did this happen to me? Who could do something like this? On March 1st , 1932 a few minutes after 9:00, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped from his crib, launching a vast investigation of motives, any conspiracy, and a questionable outcome (Walker 1).

The future looked bright for husband and father Col. Charles A. Lindbergh. He was known as the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic in his plane (Walker 1). Lindbergh was also known as the spirit of St. Louis, as well as the most worshipped hero in the Western Hemisphere. Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh were the proud parents of their twenty month old baby Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. In August of 1930 the baby boy was born into a wealthy and prosperous family. They lived in St. Louis Missouri.

However they were unaware of the tragedy waiting to occur.

On March 1st, 1932 a few minutes after 9:00p.m. Charles Lindbergh Jr. was taken from his crib. The kidnappers climbed a ladder to the baby's room. They then proceeded to gag the baby before he was taken out of his crib. The baby was then placed into a burlap bag (Mosley 165). As the kidnapper was climbing down the ladder he dropped the bag. The baby hit his head on the concrete ledge. Not realizing the severity of the injury the kidnapper proceeded (Mosely 165). He realized what happened when blood was seeping from the bag. He took the baby to a pond and cleaned the wound, but by this time the baby was dead. Therefore he buried him in the first remote place he found.

Even though the baby was dead the kidnapper proceeded with the ransom letters. The first note received was written in badly mangled English and found on April 4, 1932 at the East River (Gray 2). It said " Dear Sir Have ready $50,000 ready in twenty dollar bills, $15,000 in ten dollar bills and 10,000 in five dollar bills after two to four weeds we will inform you where to deliver the money. We warn you for making public for notifying the police (Gray 2)." On March 4, 1932 a second ransom note arrived along with tons of other mail. The second note called for an increase of the payment to 70,000 dollars in addition of 20,000 dollars in fifty dollar bills (Walker 160). The baby was found near the Lindbergh estate ten weeks later on May 12, 1932, after a truck driver stopping to relieve himself noticed a shallow grave and called the police (Mosely 5, 164).

The motives of the kidnappers are still unsure. Most think it was for the money. Others however believe it was in somewhat a vengeance against Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh. No matter what the circumstances, the baby was still killed. Even though it wasn't on purpose.

People believe that the kidnapping was due for money because of the two different ransom notes. The first asking for 50,000 dollars yet the second asking for 70,000 dollars. The money was also asked to be put in small bills in order for easier usage. Therefore the ransom money was assembled twice. The first assortment did not contain gold certificates. The detectives believed that gold certificates would be easier to spot. No two serial numbers were in order and all serial numbers were recorded.

The investigators had the suspects narrowed down to one main one and two possible. One of the possible kidnappers died while visiting his family in Germany. His name was Isadore Fesch, a friend and business partner of Brueno Richard Hauptmann. The second possible was Paul H. Wendel. A twenty-five page typed confession was sent to the New Jersey Court House. It was signed by Paul H. Wendel. However the sender of the confession was not identified (Fisher 79). The third main suspect was Brueno Richard Hauptmann. Police arrested Hauptmann on September 19, 1934 because they found a twenty dollar ransom bill in his wallet. He had also paid for gas a few days before with a ten dollar note.

Several investigators and detectives took part in the investigation. FBI agent Leon Turrou began the investigation but was soon over-ridded by higher authorities. Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Col. Brickinridge were the leaders of the investigation . Col. Brickinridge also served as Lindbergh's attorney. Another man by the name of Dr. John F. Condon was also used in the investigation. Condon was a seventy-two year old former grade school principal. He was chosen by the kidnappers (Grey 3). On April 2, 1932 the two packages containing the money were delivered to Condon's home by Lindberhg and Brickinridge at 7:54 that evening. Condon was connected with payment instructions. He then took the packages to the Bergan Grechneus Florist at 3235 E Tremont Avenue. Further instructions were found. He then proceeded to St. Raymonds Cemetery. Inside the cemetery he met a kidnapper who hid behind a hedge as they spoke. Condon convinced the kidnapper to only take 50,000 dollars of the original demand. At 9:16 p.m. Condon exchanged the packages of ransom money for a note of directions to the child (Grey 2). Albert P. Osborn was a handwritten expert. He believed that the ransom notes were indeed written by Hauptmann. Many theories came about during this kidnapping. Chicago Gangster Al Capone said he could get the baby back from the mobsters for a price. Schwarzkopf believed it was a local group or someone who lived on the Lindbergh estate (Mosely 37).

During the investigation of the kidnapping Hauptmann's apartment was searched. Hauptmann and his wife resided on the second floor apartment of East twenty-second street in the Bronx. Upon searching the apartment nothing was found. However in his garage they found a total of 474 ten dollar notes and 494 twenty gold and Federal Reserve ransom notes (Gray 5). Police determined that including money found in the garage, Hauptmann had acquired a total of $49,950, since April 2, 1932. The ransom money tied to Hauptmanas one ten dollar gold note on September 16, 1934 to purchase gasoline, one twenty dollar note was found in his wallet, 390 ten dollar notes were found on September 20, 1934, 493 twenty dollar gold notes were found on September 21, 1934 and 84 ten dollar gold notes were found on September 25, 1934 (Grey 2). Hauptmann gave three explanations for his wealth, first his wife saved it, second he made stock market investments, third a friend gave it to him to hold. After his arrest, police searched for his prior record. In June 1914, he was convicted of grand larceny, petty theft, receiving stolen property, and armed robbery. In March of 1923, he was arrested for serious burglary. Hauptmann also has a history of escaping police custody. His record indicated that he was a burglar and an amateur. He wasn't afraid to commit serious crimes(Mosely 214-215). Hauptmann was a machine gunner in the German Army for WWI. He was arrested in Germany twice but escaped twice and fled to America. What further helped convict Hauptmann was that he was pointed out in a line up with six other cops by Dr. Condon (Mosely 210). No hard evidence or clues to support the notion that Hauptmann was aided in the crime by an accomplice (Mosely 221). Over the next two years, four months and two weeds, ransom money would regularly appear. Some in Japan but most of it in the Bronx and Manhatten (Grey 1).

Hauptmann pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Therefore Judge Trenchard set the trial date for January 2, 1935 (Fisher 266). The trials lasted for six weeks. In the end Hauptmann was convicted of murder in the course of committing a different felony, breaking an entering to steal the child's pajamas. The technicality was used to satisfy the prosecutors and the members of the public. The child's death was ruled an accident because kidnapping was not a felony at the time. This trial became known as the trial of the century, Hauptmann was sentenced to life imprisonment and automatic penalty of death. On Monday, March 18,1935 at Trenton State Prison, Hauptmann was put to death by the electric chair (Behn 268).