The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Case

lindbergh_poster.jpgCol. Charles A. Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh reported their first born son, Charles Augustus Lindberg Jr., missing on the evening of March 1, 1932. The twenty month-old vanished from his bedroom in Hopewell, New Jersey sometime between 7:30pm and 10:00pm – at this time he was discovered missing by the Lindbergh’s nanny, Betty Gow. There was a ransom note left on the baby’s windowsill demanding $50,000. Thus ensued what was soon to be titled ‘The Crime of the Century’ (Celebrity Morgue, 2005).

A primary search conducted by the New Jersey State Police showed some trampled footprints underneath the window of the nursery, along with a home-made ladder reaching the window and showing the escape route the kidnapper(s) took to exit the home. There was no substantial DNA evidence inside the nursery; and oddly enough, no fingerprints at all. Lindbergh Sr. took the investigation into his own hands as he befriended John F. Condon from Bronx, New York, who became his connection to the kidnapper(s).

After following a trail of ransom notes, Condon met with an unidentified man in a local cemetery who promised to send the Lindbergh’s proof that the baby was still alive. After lengthy negotiations and twelve ransom notes later, Condon met with the kidnapper(s) on April 2, 1932, and gave him the $50,000 he demanded. In the thirteenth and final note, there were instructions to find the baby on a boat named “Nellie” in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The search for the baby was unsuccessful. To all of America’s shock, Charles Lindbergh Jr.’s half-buried and half-decomposed body was discovered by a truck driver four and a half miles southeast of the Lindbergh residence on May 12, 1932. A coroner established that the baby had died about two months earlier, suggesting that the baby was killed about a week after he was kidnapped.

This case was soon taken over by the FBI, even president Edgar Hoover showed great concern for convicting whoever had committed such a terrible crime. There was a break in the case when some of the gold bills used to pay the ransom were located by authorities, thus pointing the blame to Bruno Richard Hauptmann. He was originally found using a $10 gold certificate that came from the ransom money, and another $20 marked gold bill was found on him upon being thoroughly investigated on September 20, 1934. A further search of Hauptmann’s apartment connected him to the crime in other several ways.

On September 26, 1934, Hauptmann was indicted by the Supreme Court on charges of extortion, and then on October 8, 1934, he was also indicted for the murder of Charles Lindberg Jr. The trial lasted just over a month, and on February 13, 1935 the jury charged Hauptmann with first degree murder and was sentenced to death. On April 3, 1936, Hauptmann was electrocuted for the crime – although he maintained his innocence until the day he died (FBI, 2010).

Col. Charles Augustus Lindberg was the first man to fly solo accross the Atlantic ocean in 1927

People of the Case
  • Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. (20 months old, kidnapped and murdered)
  • Col. Charles Augustus Lindbergh (Father of baby)
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Mother of baby)
  • Bruno Richard Hauptmann (Found guilty of crime, executed)
  • Betty Gow (Nurse-maid for Lindbergh household)
  • John F. Condon (Lindbergh’s connection to kidnappers)
  • Arthur Koehler (Wood expert)
  • Albert S. Osborn (Handwriting expert)
  • “John” (Alias the kidnappers used)
  • “Jafsie” (Alias used by Condon when speaking to kidnappers)
  • William Allen (Truck driver, discovered baby’s body)

The Evidence