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Lindbergh Kidnapping

Herbert Hoover

Lindbergh Kidnapping: Herbert Hoover was the 31st American President who served in office from March 4, 1929 to March 4, 1933. One of the important events during his presidency was the Lindbergh Kidnapping.

Definition and Summary of the Lindbergh Kidnapping
Summary and definition:
The Lindbergh Kidnapping was the tragic abduction of the 20-month-old son of the famous aviator Charles Lindberg and his wife Anne Morrow Lindberg on March 1, 1932. The kidnapping resulted in an unsuccessful nationwide search for the child and the payment of a ransom for $50,000.

The child, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was never returned to his parents and the baby's body was found on May 12, 1932. The man convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was sentenced to death for the crime and electrocuted at Trenton State Prison on April 3, 1936.   

What happened in the Lindbergh Kidnapping? The Lindbergh Kidnapping, referred to by the press of the time as "The Crime of the Century", was the abduction of the 20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne.

When did the Lindbergh Kidnapping happen? The Lindbergh Kidnapping occurred on the evening of Tuesday March 1, 1932

Where was the baby taken from? 20-month-old Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was abducted from his crib in the second-story nursery of the family's home in East Amwell, New Jersey, near the town of Hopewell.

What was the ransom in the Lindbergh Kidnapping? The kidnapping led to a 10-week nationwide search and the payment of a ransom of $50,000 on April 2, 1932.

What happened to the baby in the Lindbergh Kidnapping? The child was never returned to his parents. He was murdered by his kidnapper and the child's remains were found six weeks later on May 12, 1932 in roadside woodlands near Mount Rose, New Jersey.

Who was the kidnapper? The name of the kidnapper was Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted of the crime, sentenced to death and electrocuted at Trenton State Prison on April 3, 1936.

Facts about Lindbergh Kidnapping
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Lindbergh Kidnapping.

The tragic Lindbergh Kidnapping attracted worldwide attention and led to a macabre media circus in which the press hailed the abduction as "The Crime of the Century".

Charles Lindberg Senior was the world famous aviator who had become a celebrity following the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in his airplane called the Spirit of St. Louis in May 1927.

The famous aviator married Anne Morrow, the daughter of Dwight Morrow, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico on May 1929.

The couple had a son, named Charles Lindbergh, Jr., on June 22, 1930 and set up home in East Amwell, New Jersey, near the town of Hopewell.

The baby's nursery was on the second-story of the house

The child’s abduction was discovered and reported to his parents, who were at home at the time, by the child’s nurse, Betty Gow, at approximately 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday March 1, 1932.

The police were called and made a thorough search of the premises. They discovered a ransom note, demanding $50,000, on the nursery window sill. The were no fingerprints or blood stains at the scene of the crime but footprints, that were impossible to measure, were found under the nursery window.

Nationwide appeals were made by the police to start negotiations with the kidnappers. Posters, like the one above, were distributed across the United States. Private Investigators were hired by the family to help in the search.

A second ransom note was received by Charles Lindbergh on March 6, 1932. The  second ransom note was postmarked Brooklyn, New York and dated March 4, 1932. The ransom demand was increased to $70,000.

A series of ransom notes, thirteen in total,  were received from the kidnapper and the ransom was eventually agreed at the original figure of $50,000.

Dr. John F. Condon (Code name "Jafsie"), a retired school principal from New York City acted as a volunteer intermediary. Communications were conducted with the kidnapper via pre-arranged advertisements in newspapers.

This sixth note gave instructions for Dr. Condon to met an unidentified man, who called himself "John" at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City. They discussed payment of the ransom money and the use of code words. "John"  agreed to furnish a token of the child’s identity. Dr. Condon described "John" as Scandinavian and gave the FBI as description of the man that was used in investigations to identify the mysterious "John".

The baby’s sleeping suit, as a token of identity, was received by Dr. Condon on March 16, 1932 and was identified by Colonel Charles Lindbergh.

The series of communications resulted in the payment on April 2 of $50,000 was made partly in cash and more easily traceable Gold certificates with serial numbers.

The information given about the child's whereabouts proved to be false.

Six weeks later on May 12, 1932, the child's remains were found by chance by a passing truck driver in woodlands along the roadside near Mount Rose, New Jersey.

On May 26, 1932 the New Jersey State Police announced the offer of a reward of $25,000 for information that resulted in the conviction of the kidnapper or kidnappers.

On June 13, 1932 the "Lindbergh Law" was passed by Congress and signed by President Hoover. Known formally as the "Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932" the law enabled federal authorities to pursue kidnappers once they had crossed state lines with their victim.

Despite intensive investigations over a period of a year and a half "John" was not identified. But "John" made the mistake of cashing the $10 and $20 gold certificates which were a form of paper currency.

By tracing of the serial numbers of $10 and $20 gold certificates (paper currency) passed in the New York City area police at last led to "John". His name was Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a 34-year-old German immigrant carpenter.

Hauptmann had begun to pay various stores with the gold certificates and a suspicious gas station attendant noted the license plate number of his automobile and reported this and the $10 gold certificate number to the police.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested near his home in the Bronx, New York, on September 19, 1934. He had a criminal record for robbery and had spent time in prison. The police searched his home and found $13,760 of the ransom money hidden in his garage. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was identified by Dr. Condon as “John” to whom the ransom had been paid. By September 26, 1934 Hauptmann had been indicted on charges of kidnapping, extortion, and first-degree murder. Hauptmann bore a remarkable likeness to the FBI sketch.

On January 2, 1935 Bruno Richard Hauptmann went on trial in Flemington, New Jersey. He was convicted by the jury on all counts. The trial judge, Thomas Trenchard, sentenced Hauptmann to death on February 14, 1935.

Bruno Hauptmann adamantly maintained his innocence, but his appeals and petitions for clemency were all rejected. He was electrocuted at Trenton State Prison on April 3, 1936.

It is impossible to imagine the torment, pain and anguish suffered by Anne and Charles Lindbergh. The brave couple went on to have another four children following WW2. 

The tragic Lindbergh Kidnapping was undoubtedly the "Cruelist Crime of the Century"

US American History
1929-1945: Depression & WW2

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