The Lindbergh Baby Case
Arianna M. McCraney
Professor Jack McCoy
Unit 1 – September 2, 2014
On a cold, rainy night in March 1932, late in the evening, a baby by the name of Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was snatched from the nursery of their home in Hopewell, New Jersey. The kidnappers left a small, white envelope on a radiator case near the nursery window. An investigation by the Police outside the house turned up a broken homemade extension ladder. The side rails of the middle section of the ladder were split, indicating that the ladder broke when the kidnapper came down the ladder with the baby. What was also discovered were a chisel and two (2) different sets of footprints that lead away from the house in a southeastern direction towards some car tracks. By the next morning the news of the kidnapping had been broadcasted to the world, and reporters, camera men, bystanders, and souvenir hunters flocked over the Lindbergh estate. If there were any evidence not already taken by the police, it was lost in the aftermath (Johnson, 2007).
The very next day after driving away from his home in his blue Dodge, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested by the police. What was found in Hauptmann’s possession was a twenty-dollar gold note, and on September 26, 1934, Hauptmann stood before a New York Magistrate to hear that he was being charged with extortion of $50,000 from Charles Lindbergh, and would be held on $100,000 bail. Then two weeks later, in the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, New Jersey, twenty-three grand jurors collectively voted to indict Hauptmann for the murder of the Lindbergh child and extortion. New York agreed to send Hauptmann back to stand trial in New Jersey, while he awaited his January 2, 1935 trial date (Johnson, 2007).
The prosecution began to illustrate bit-by-bit how Hauptmann, climbed the homemade extension ladder and entered into the Lindbergh baby’s nursery, kidnapped the baby, and then proceeded to go back out the window and back down the homemade extension ladder. Since Hauptmann was carrying more weight going down the ladder than when he was climbing up the ladder, the ladder broke and down he fell with the Lindbergh baby. During the process of the burglary, the Lindbergh baby was immediately killed when it sustained the first blow from falling with Hauptmann (Gado, 2014).
Prior to the trial the prosecution had reviewed a total of forty-five specimens and entered them as evidence in the case, along with fifteen ransom notes, and nine (9) vehicle registration applications in Hauptmann's handwriting. In order to create a case that included John Knoll's involvement in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping were photographs of Knoll striking a close physical resemblance to the police sketches, the well known lump that was on Knoll’s left thumb, the possibility that it was not a single kidnapping that negotiated the two (2) or three (3) foot gap between the bedroom nursery window and the top portion of the ladder. Also the fact that less than a third of the ransom money was discovered at Hauptmann's home, a conversation his father overheard between Knoll and two other German-speakers before the kidnapping occurred, the results of the handwriting analysis software that determined that the handwriting on the ransom note envelopes were going to match Knoll's handwriting with a 95% possibility, Knoll's flight to Germany almost directly after Hauptmann's arrest, and his return back almost directly right after the jury's decision. Maybe most damaging is the fact that Knoll, a young immigrant deli worker, managed to book a round-trip first class flight to Hamburg, Germany for both himself and his wife on a luxury airliner (Gado, 2014).
In the trial the defense’s first witness was Richard Bruno Hauptmann. Hauptmann described his difficult life in Germany, as he struggled with his English, his hard work, and...
References: FBI (n.d.). “The Lindbergh Kidnapping.” U.S. Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation website. Retrieved on August 31, 2014 from: http://www.fbi.gov/ about-us/history/famous-cases/the-lindbergh-kidnapping.
Gado, M. (2014). “My Baby is Missing!.” The Crime Library website. Retrieved on August 31, 2014 from: http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal_mind/psychology/ child_abduction/7.html.
Johnson, D. (2007). “Lindbergh Kidnapping Remembered: The Crime That Shocked the Nation.” Information Please website. Retrieved on August 31, 2014 from: http:// www.infoplease.com/spot/lindbergh1.html.
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