Lindbergh Kidnapping (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The KIDNAPPING of Charles A. and Anne M. Lindbergh's twenty-month-old son horrified the United States, and even the world. In 1927, at age twenty-five, Lindbergh achieved international fame with the first solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by air, and in the bleak years of the late 1920s, the young aviator became a symbol of courage and success. The disappearance of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., on March 1, 1932, and the discovery of his corpse ten weeks later, led to a riotous trial, significant changes in federal law, and a tightening of courtroom rules regarding cameras.
Lindbergh's historic flight from New York to Paris in The Spirit of St. Louis brought him both adulation and wealth. By the end of 1930, he was estimated to be worth over $1.5 million. His was an enviable life, with more than enough justifications for the nickname Lucky Lindy: world fame; the Congressional Medal of Honor; foreign nations sponsoring his long-distance flights; positions with several airlines; a publishing career; and, in 1929, marriage to the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, the writer Anne Spencer Morrow. The couple made their home in New Jersey, where their first child, Charles, Jr., was born in 1930.
In the context of 1930s crime, the kidnapping of Charles, Jr., was not unique. But because he was the Lindberghs' son, his disappearance provoked weeks of well-publicized...
(The entire section is 574 words.)
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Lindbergh Kidnapping and Murder (World of Forensic Science)
In 1936, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed after a jury found him guilty of the brutal kidnapping and murder of twenty-month-old Charles Lindbergh, Jr., the son of American aviation hero Charles Lindbergh. The elder Lindbergh had become a celebrity in 1927 when he electrified the world by making the first nonstop solo airplane flight across the Atlantic. After returning home to a hero's welcome, he married Anne Morrow, the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and the couple's son Charles, Jr., was born in 1930. The reclusive Lindbergh, who shunned the public and the press, was thrust back into the glare of the spotlight in 1932, when his son disappeared from the family's rural home near Hopewell, New Jersey, and was later found murdered. Americans followed with intense interest the investigation and the sensational trial of Hauptmann for what was dubbed the "Crime of the Century."
The Lindberghs generally spent the weekends on their isolated 390-acre Hopewell estate and returned to the Morrow family estate in Englewood, New Jersey, on Monday mornings. That weekend, however, young Charles had a cold, so the family decided to remain in Hopewell one more day. On the cold and rainy evening of March 1, 1932, sometime between 8:00 p.m., when the child's nursemaid went to the second-floor nursery to look in on him, and 10:00 p.m., when Lindbergh went to the nursery to check in on his son before going to bed, the child had disappeared. Lindbergh later reported hearing a thumping noise from upstairs at about 9:00 p.m. Both the local and state police, with Lindbergh's help, conducted an unsuccessful search of the grounds for the child. (The state police investigation was led by H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the father of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., the U.S. commander of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991.) The initial investigation turned up ladder impressions in the ground outside the nursery window, a carpenter's chisel nearby, and, about a hundred yards away, a broken ladder. Inside, a ransom note was found in the nursery, the first of fourteen notes that would be received during the investigation, all apparently written by the same hand on the same type of paper with the same blue ink:
Have 50000$ redy with 2500$ in 20$ bills 1500$ in 10$ bills and 1000$ in 5$ bills. After 2 days we will inform you were to deliver the Mony. We warn you for making anyding public or for notify the polise the child is in gute care.
Indication for all letters are singnature and 3 holes.
The final line refers to a peculiar feature of all the notes: In the bottom right-hand corner of each was a pair of interlocking blue circles, each about an inch in diameter, with the overlapping area of the circles colored red and punched with three small holes.
A second note, delivered on March 5, upped the ransom demand to $70,000. A later note agreed to use the services of Lindbergh admirer John F. Condon as a go-between, with communication conducted through ads in a New York newspaper under the code name "Jafsie," from Condon's initials, J.F.C. Another included instructions for the type of box in which the ransom money was to be delivered. The first meeting between Condon and the kidnapper took place in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, where Condon insisted on proof that the kidnapper held the child before paying any ransom; soon the child's sleeping suit was delivered to the Lindbergh home.
At a second meeting, on March 31, Condon delivered to the cemetery two packages of unmarked gold certificates, whose serial numbers would later be widely circulated in nearly a quarter of a million booklets. Gold certificates were used to pay the ransom because the nation was just about to go off the gold standard for its currency and gold certificates, which had to be turned in by May 1, 1933, would be conspicuous if the kidnapper attempted to pass them. The first of the bills reappeared on April 2, and in the months that followed additional bills turned up. On May 1, 1933, $2,980 of the ransom bills were turned in at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City by one J. J. Faulkner, but Faulkner was never identified or found.
The child, however, was not returned when the ransom was paid. Instead, another note indicated that he could be found on a boat near Elizabeth Island, but a search for the boat proved unsuccessful. Then on May 12, a truck driver named William Allen discovered the child's body, now little more than a skeleton, in the woods about four miles from the Lindbergh estate. The body's left leg from the knee down, as well as the left hand and right arm, were missing. An autopsy showed that the likely cause of death was a blow to the head, but it otherwise provided no clues, and the investigation languished. Finally, on September 15, 1934, a gas station attendant became suspicious when a customer with a German accent used a $10 gold certificate to pay for a 98-cent gas purchase. Thinking the certificate might be counterfeit, he recorded the car's license number and contacted the police. The police traced the car to Hauptmann, a German immigrant, who denied having any more of the bills, but a search of the garage at his home in the Bronx, New York, turned up over $14,000 of the currency. He was arrested, and after a six-week trial conducted in a circus-like atmosphere in Flemington, New Jersey, found guilty on February 13, 1935. He was executed by electric chair on April 3 the following year.
The prosecution built much of its case on the forensic evidence. One important piece of evidence was the ladder, which was examined by a number of wood experts, including Arthur Koehler of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Wisconsin. Koehler examined slivers of the ladder sent to him and concluded that the ladder was made of pine from North Carolina, Douglas fir from the West, birch, and Ponderosa pine. He even traced some of the lumber to a mill in South Carolina and from there to a lumber dealer in the Bronx. The hand-made ladder in some respects showed the work of a skilled carpenter. Hauptmann was a carpenter, and in fact had constructed the garage in which the ransom currency was found. During the search of Hauptmann's home, one of the investigators noticed a missing beam in the home's attic. The pattern of the nail holes in one of the uprights of the ladder found on the Lindbergh estate matched the pattern of nail holes left when the beam was removed from Hauptmann's attic.
The most crucial evidence, however, was the ransom notes themselves. The notes were examined by several analysts, who all concluded that they came from the same hand. They noted consistent misspellings, such as note rather than not, as well as inversion of letters such as g and h. They also noted peculiarities in the way that x and t were written and the illegibility of the word the. The letter o was open, and t's were uncrossed. Additionally, some of
During the investigation, one of the handwriting experts, Albert S. Osborn, wrote out a paragraph that the police could dictate to a suspect to write down to determine if he or she could have written the notes. The paragraph contained such words as our (ouer in the ransom notes), place (often spelled plase), and money (mony). Later, when Hauptmann was arrested, he was asked to provide samples of his handwriting, as well as to copy the ransom notes repeatedly over a period of hours. When Osborn and his son, Albert D. Osborn, first examined these writing samples, they were not convinced that Hauptmann wrote the ransom notes. The police then forced Hauptmann to write more notes, dictating the way he was to spell certain words. Again, the Osborns concluded that there were too many dissimilarities between Hauptmann's writing and that of the ransom
SEE ALSO Handwriting analysis.