Menu

Celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh’s baby son kidnapped – then found killed (1932)

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon.com or other companies. Qualifying purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

baby-charles-lindbergh-jr

Kidnappers hold baby son of Col Lindbergh; ask $50,000 ransom; leave note

From the Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah) – May 13, 1932

Flier’s 20-month-old child seized by unseen person entering through window of Hopewell, NJ, estate, after infant is put to bed in nursery — Abductors get long lead before heir’s absence is discovered

Definite clues unobtained — Troops halt and search all cars in New Jersey roadways — Motor in which boy was whisked away, stolen — Underworld dives scrutinized — Alarm sent through many states

Hopewell, NJ, March 2, 1932 — Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr, blue-eyed and fair-haired 20-month-old child of Colonel Lindbergh and Mrs Lindbergh, is held today for $50,000 ransom.

Seized in his crib last night as he lay slumbering and ill of a cold, the baby was taken away by kidnappers; one of them is believed to be a woman.

The first ransom note - Lindbergh Baby kidnapping via FBI
The first ransom note – Lindbergh Baby kidnapping, via FBI

With cold daring, the actual kidnapper crept up a short sectional ladder into the second-floor nursery sometime between 7:30 and 10 pm last night and took the child down the ladder and left behind the ransom demand.

This note, demanding the $50,000 for the child’s freedom was reported to have said in substance: “We will be back tomorrow (Wednesday) to talk business. Don’t talk to the police or the papers.”

Col Lindbergh, grimly reticent, aided in searching for the kidnappers, and was represented as ready personally to enter direct negotiations for the child’s return.

Meantime, the kidnapping created a worldwide sensation. Literally thousands of police and state troopers were put on alarm guard, watching highways, and state and national boundary lines. Over the teletype wires of the eastern states and up along the Canadian border flashed word that one of the nation’s most famous babies had been stolen.

The kidnappers apparently had not realized the furor and resentment their deed would cause. Police everywhere went to work with a will to come up with the kidnappers, while the Federal departments of justice, commerce and treasury in Washington, offered to do all within their power to track down all the criminals.

Aviators from many parts of the country offered their services, and an air comrade was sent aloft this morning to see if from the skies he could see anything along the roadways of value to the search.

The Commerce Department was ready also to help with pilots.

Colonel Lindbergh, worn by the anxiety of his predicament, worked side by side with the state police. During the night he helped to trace down tracks on his property in the fastness of the Sourland Mountains.

Charles-Lindbergh

During the forenoon, he went on a mysterious errand with Lieutenant John Keaton, of the New Jersey state police. They sped away in a fast car, and came back a couple of hours later on foot through the woods. Rumor had it that they had visited Flagtown, where a group of suspected bootleggers was believed to be.

Meantime, Mrs Lindbergh, deeply stirred, bore up with the courage of a Spartan mother.

The first word prostrated her, but it was not long before she was exhibiting the same courage as her husband, and she helped authorities.

Once she joined searchers for a short period.

Her burden was all the greater for she had been nursing the child several days because of a cold. And the kidnappers without even trying to catch up some quilts, dragged the baby off, clad only in its “sleeper.” Moreover, Mrs Lindbergh is again an expectant mother.

After Governor A Harry Moore had announced a reward of $10,000 for the capture of the Lindbergh baby kidnappers and the State Senate had resolved to increase the amount to $25,000, the reward was canceled out of consideration for Col Lindbergh.

Moore telephoned the distraught father and told him of the proposed state action. Lindbergh expressed the fear that the reward might endanger his child, whereupon the reward plans were canceled.


Wanted: Information as to the whereabouts of Chas. A. Lindbergh, Jr of Hopewell, N.J.

Son of Col. Chas. A. Lindbergh / World-Famous Aviator

This child was kidnapped from his home/in Hopewell, N.J., between 8 and 10 p. m. on Tuesday, March 1, 1932.

DESCRIPTION: 

  • Age, 20 months
  • Hair, blond, curly.
  • Weight, 27 to 30 lbs.
  • Eyes, dark blue
  • Height, 29 inches
  • Complexion, light
  • Deep dimple in center of chin
  • Dressed in one-piece coverall night suit

Address all communications To/Col. H.N. Schwarzkopf, Trenton, N.J. or/Col. Chas. A. Lindbergh, Hopewell, N.J.

Side note: The lead investigator, Colonel H Norman Schwarzkopf of the NJ State Police, was the father of General H Norman Schwarzkopf Jr, of Desert Storm/Gulf War I fame.


little-lindy-baby-kidnapped

Lindbergh baby found slain

Kidnapping victim murdered, thrown into shallow grave; manhunt begins

Truck driver discovers tiny form of child in brush within sight of famous flier’s home; skull fractured

Baby killed soon after tragic abduction

Authorities report callous brutality at hands of criminals; grief-stricken parent aids identification

By Bates Rainey

Hopewell, NJ, May 12, 1932 — Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr, infant son of the world-famous aviator, was found dead today at Mount Rose, NJ, near the Sourland mountain home from which he was kidnapped 73 days ago.

The tragic end to an international search came with an official announcement at the Lindbergh home of the pitiful discovery.

The discovery set in motion what promises to be the greatest manhunt in the history of the country.

The announcement was made by Colonel H Norman Schwarzkopf, who has been in charge of the kidnapping investigation since the baby was stolen from its crib on the night of March 1.

The body, reduced to skeleton, was found by William Allen and Orville Wilson, who were driving along the road from Trenton on what is known as Mount Rose hill.

The body was beneath a pile of brush, Schwarzkopf said.

The discovery was made at 3:15 pm and identification was furthered by discovery of a flannel undershirt and band which, compared with the clothing known to have been worn by the child the night of the kidnapping, left no doubt as to his identity.

The baby had been murdered.

Charles Lindbergh's baby son kidnapped - then found dead (1932)

Merciless treatment practiced by child’s abductors; autopsy shows head injuries

A statement by County Physician Charles H Mitchel, who conducted an autopsy on the body, left no doubt of the callous brutality of the child’s abductors.

The baby’s skull had been fractured. “He was either hurled from an automobile or struck over the head,” Dr Mitchel reported.

The child was lying on his face, and from its position, indicated that attempts had been made to conceal or bury it. In his forehead was a hole about the size of a 25-cent piece. The body was taken to the Lindbergh home, where Mrs Lindbergh completed the tragic identification.

By a tragic turn of fate, Colonel Lindbergh, hopefully investigating the latest set of false clues to the kidnappers’ trail, was away from his home when the discovery of his child’s body was made and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was forced to bear the burden of grief — for awhile — alone.

The colonel returned to his home late today by automobile, state police said.

Colonel Lindbergh had been absent, aiding in the search for his kidnapped son, at the time the body of the child was found.

In his official statement, Colonel Schwarzkopf said:

“We have to announce that apparently the body of the Lindbergh baby was found at 3:15 pm today by William Allen, colored, of Trenton, who was riding on the Mount Rose road toward Hopewell.

“He was riding with Orville Wilson on a truckload of timber. They stopped the truck and found a baby.”

Although the first paragraph of Schwarzkopf’s statement contained the word “apparently,” Mrs Lindbergh’s identification left no doubt as to the absolute identification of the baby.

“Going into the woods,” Schwarzkopf’s statement continued, “and going under a bush, he (Allen) lowered his head and as he raised his head he saw the skeleton on the ground.”

Men decide to rush for police officers after grim discovery in underbrush

“He says in his statement that what he saw had a person’s foot on it. He called back to Mr Wilson. Mr Wilson ran into the woods, saw what it was, and decided to go to Hopewell and get the police.

MORE  Bad vintage Christmas ads: 20 retro holiday sales pitches that you'd never see today

“He notified Chief Wolf, who notified these headquarters. Inspector Walsh of Jersey City, Sergeant Moffatt of the Newark police, Lieutenant Keaton of the New Jersey state police, and a number of other detectives immediately went to the scene.

“They reported finding the body of a child, estimated to be between a year and a half and two years old, in a bad state of decomposition, but having blond hair and wearing what appeared to be an undershirt and a flannel band around the body.

“Not satisfied with this as identification, men were sent back into Hopewell to the Lindbergh estate to get samples of the undershirt the baby wore and of the flannel shirt the baby had on the night of the kidnapping.

“This flannel shirt had an embroidered scalloped edge on it. These articles were taken back to the scene and compared with the clothing found on the body and were matched closely enough to afford an identification of the body as that of the Lindbergh baby.

“The statement of William Allen and Orville Wilson says that the body was pretty well concealed by leaves, dirt and brush. The skull had a hole in it about the size of a quarter just above the forehead. The body was lying in a depression as though an attempt had been made to bury it face down. The body was in a very bad state of decomposition.

“Mercer county physician, Dr Charles H Mitchel, and the county coroner, Walter Swayze, were immediately called in.”

Colonel Schwarzkopf added that the coroner had taken charge of the body and had taken it to Trenton, where an autopsy was being performed by Dr Mitchel.


Lindbergh kidnap case near solution with the arrest of Bronx carpenter (1934)

From The Morning Call (Paterson, New Jersey) September 21, 1934

Bruno Richard Hauptmann; Fugitive from German prison, who entered U.S. as a stowaway in 1923, is held in most sensational case of modern times — Part of $50,000 ransom recovered

New York, Sept. 20 (AP) — The Lindbergh baby kidnapping case — the most sensational crime of modern times — neared a solution with spectacular swiftness tonight after the arrest of a German fugitive and the recovery of part of the $50,000 ransom.

The prisoner is Bruno Richard Hauptmann, 35, an alien and a carpenter by trade, who entered the United States in 1923 as a stowaway while on parole from a German prison.

His wife and nephew, Hans Mueller, also were held for questioning. a In the garage of the Hauptmann home in the Bronx — but a few miles from St. Raymond’s cemetery where Dr. John F. Condon, the intermediary known as ”Jafsie’> paid over $50,000 ransom for the baby later found dead — $13,750 of the ransom bills were discovered, cached in the floor and window sill.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann - Lindbergh baby kidnapping

Believes kidnapping solved

Police Commissioner John F. O’Ryan made the announcement of Hauptmann’s arrest. He spoke for the combined force of investigators that apprehended the alien — Federal agents, New Jersey Troopers and New York City police.

“In your opinion,” O’Ryan was asked, “does this solve the Lindbergh kidnapping?”

O’Ryan conferred for a minute with J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation of the Department of Justice, and with H. Norman Schwarzkopf, head of the New Jersey State police.

He said: “Yes, it will.”

Making public full details of the arrest, which occurred Tuesday, O’Ryan said Hauptmann, a carpenter and cabinet maker, admitted he worked as a carpenter in the neighborhood of the Lindbergh home.

Detectives have established, further, the commissioner said, that Hauptmann had access to a lumber yard in the neighborhood where timber was found bearing the same trademark as the lumber used to make the ladder — up which the kidnapper climbed about 10 o’clock the night of March 1, 1932.

O’Ryan disclosed that Hauptmann had a criminal record in Germany, saying: “Despite the fact that Hauptmann denied that he had a criminal record, I have just been advised that he admits he was on parole and escaped as a stowaway from Germany to prevent his return to prison there.”

Identification of Hauptmann followed immediately with the announcement of his arrest.

Suspect identified by taxi driver

John Perrone, a taxicab driver of the Bronx, picked Hauptman out of the police lineup, it was reported as the man who gave him a dollar to take a note to the Condon home in the Bronx the night of March 12, 1932 — eleven days after the blue-eyed, blonde son of Colonel and Mrs Charles A. Lindbergh was snatched from his crib in the second floor nursery of their home in the lonely Sourland mountains of New Jersey.

Commissioner O’Ryan first said “witnesses” identified Hauptmann as the man to whom the ransom was paid. By this, it was assumed the commissioner meant Dr. Condon.

Commissioner O’Ryan, in response to questions later tonight, said only that Hauptmann was “identified.” He declined at this time to say in what phase of the case the identification was made, or give details.

Seldom has a clue been traced so quickly to its denouement.

Walter Lyle, a filling station attendant in the Bronx, was given a $10 gold certificate last Saturday by a man who ordered five gallons of gasoline.

“I remarked,” Lyle said, “that you don’t see many of these anymore.”

“The man replied that he had only a few more left.”

Lyle recalled the presidential order for recall of gold and gold certficates. He was suspicious and took the number of the automobile. Later, he turned the note over to police. It was checked at the bank — again, one of the Lindbergh bills had turned up.

Of this phase of the apprehension, the commissioner related: “The operator of the gas station described the customer who passed the $10 gold certificate in an almost identical fashion as the one described by a Fordham shoe store proprietor.”

In the Hauptmann house, O’Ryan said, a pair of shoes was found that had been purchased in this store.

Earlier, the tracing of the tell-tale ransom bill had been facilitated by suggestions that those receiving the bills mark either a street address or automobile license number on the bills of the one passing the (ransom) bill.


Hauptmann, found guilty, sentenced to die in New Jersey electric chair (1935)

Woman opposed to death / German carpenter outwardly calm in court, sobs later in his cell

From the Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kansas) February 14, 1935

The sheriff at Flemington, NJ, said today Hauptmann would be removed to the death house in the state prison at Trenton Saturday.

Edward J Reilly of defense counsel said he would start a “Hauptmann appeal fund” with a bank as trustee. He described the verdict as “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice.”

Senator Barbour of New Jersey commented that murderers and kidnappers had best stay away from New Jersey.

Mrs Hauptmann was denied permission to visit her husband until his removal from Flemington to Trenton. She washed a white sleeping suit of her baby.

Perjury prosecution

The county prosecutor at Flemington said efforts would be made to indict four defense witnesses for perjury.

Hauptmann’s mother wrote President Roosevelt seeking a pardon for her son. The president has no power to grant it.

The jurors who convicted Hauptmann left Flemington for their home refusing to discuss what happened in the jury room. One source said there were five ballots, five of the jurors, two women and three men, voting for life imprisonment on the first ballot, the others for death. The two women switched first in the subsequent balloting and the men followed. Robert Cravatt was the lone voter for life imprisonment on the fourth ballot.

Lindbergh takes the witness stand during the 1935 trial of Hauptmann in Flemington, New Jersey. Photo via LOC

Flemington, NJ — Death has been decreed for Bruno Richard Hauptmann, convicted of killing the Lindbergh baby, but his counsel drafted today a fight through high courts which may last months.

Precedent combined with judge and jury to fix the night of March 22 as the tentative date for Hauptmann’s electrocution.

He was sentenced to “suffer death” the week of March 18, and Friday is doomsday in the death house at Trenton.

While Hauptmann wept in his cell, Edward J Reilly, chief of defense staff, said an appeal would be carried to the United States Supreme Court.

MORE  See how the Titanic survivors in lifeboats were rescued by the ship Carpathia (1912)

First hearing in May

The first tribunal expected to hear the plea, the state court of errors and appeals, meets for its next term late in May. The court of pardons will not hear it before October.

The jurors who sentenced him showed more emotion than did Hauptmann as he stood before them at 10:45 last night.

With a look of affection, the 36-year-old prisoner turned to his faithful wife and said:

“Its all right, Annie.”

Back in his cell, out of the gaze of the curious, Hauptmann burst into tears.

Lindbergh baby kidnapping - analysis of Hauptmann’s handwriting by the FBI crime lab

No bail for Lindbergh baby kidnapper (1934)

The News, New York newspaper (September 22, 1934)

A scene from Richard Hauptmann’s arraignment, where his bail was denied. 

Bruno Hauptmann-no-bail

Hauptmann dies silently: Bruno electrocuted without confessing Lindbergh crime (1936)

by Harry Ferguson – Nevada State Journal (April 4, 1936)

Trenton, NJ — The state of New Jersey, which spent $1,200,000 to capture and convict Bruno Richard Hauptmann, executed him tonight with a penny’s worth of electricity.

Before his body even hung loose and heavy against the straps of the electric chair, officials collected from a witness a dozen affidavits, swearing that Hauptmann had died in the place, time and manner prescribed by law. Then they closed their four year file on the murder of Charles A Lindbergh Jr.

Hauptmann died without confessing. Not a word passed his lips as he entered the electrocution chamber and he needed no assistance when he sat down in the chair.

Hauptmann died at 8:47 1/2 pm.

Nothing that a man covets — money, security for his family, not even the prospect of escaping the thunderbolt that hit him tonight — could persuade Hauptmann to tell why and how and when he killed the Lindbergh baby.

His failure to confess left a trail of doubt around the world. Millions, including the governor of New Jersey, believe no one man could have committed the crime, and that the law did only part of its work in this spring evening four years and a month from the night when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped.

Millions still believe that someday, accomplices in case will be found,

For these millions, a murdered child still cries out for vengeance, and they will believe through all their years that sometime and somewhere a frightened man is going to whisper from his death bed that he, too, had a part in the bloody business on Sourland Mountain.

But when Hauptmann walked to his death, he did so in the knowledge that his lawyers and his wife, Anna, had tried and tested every safeguard of the law, and that he still stood convicted and guilty.

For one breathless fragment of a minute tonight every heart stood still in the little white-walled room where death and Hauptmann met. It was when the door swung.

There stood Hauptmann!

For five beats of your heart, he did not move, but waited for the door to come wide enough for him and his guards to get through.

It was his eyes you noticed first. They were strange, unblinking eyes — cold eyes of washed-out blue.

Only Bruno’s eyes identify him as the Bruno Hauptmann of last year. They had dressed him for death in a gray shirt open at the throat, in shapeless brown trousers and bedroom slippers. At first glance, only his eyes identified him as being the man who sat directly in front of the United Press correspondent at Flemington during the six weeks of his trial. They had clipped the hair off his skull, and it gleamed, white and hard in the light.

Robert Elliott, the executioner, stood beside a bucket of brine in which he was soaking the sponges to be used on Hauptmann — a wrinkled old mechanic of death, puttering around with his tools. There were more than 50 persons crowded into one corner of the room, but if Hauptmann saw them they must have been nothing but a blur of faces to him.

Only one thing stands out dark and stark in that white room — the oak chair with its heavy leather straps.

Hauptmann confronts chair — but no sign of break before lightning hits

And that chair was the first thing Hauptmann saw as he came through the door with a guard grasping each arm. It was not the first time he had looked death in the eye. He saw it down the stubby barrel of a machine gun during the World war; saw it coming at him across the fields in the shape of men dressed in French horizon blue and British brown. But he could fight back at death then, give it blow for blow and come through, as he did, unscathed. There was no fighting back now, and he knew it.

His face was pasty, maybe with fright and maybe only with the pallor that prison puts on men who never see the sun. He seemed to have courage, if courage means that the brain tells the legs to walk on toward death and the legs obey. The guards grasped him, but did not drag him across the six paces from the door to the chair. One trouser leg slipped, because they had to slit it so they could clamp the electrode to his leg.

During that brief march from the door to the chair it must have occurred to everybody there that now, if ever, fear would surely jolt Hauptmann’s tongue loose and set him to babbling the details of his crime.

Executioner moves on soundless feet to spin wheel and release current

But he was silent and continued so as they placed him in the chair and lashed a strap across his chest. Still no word came from him when they reached through the slit in his trouser leg and clamped him closer to death.

But there was yet time to talk — time to postpone, or perhaps avoid what was about to happen to him if only he would speak the few words that would break the riddle to which he alone knew the answer.

No time left now, though, because they poised a leather helmet above his shaven head. A strap dropped over his eyes, blotting out the brilliance of an electric bulb over his head and warning him of greater darkness to come.

Elliott moved on soundless feet back toward a wheel in the wall that sends the current through the chair. He reached up and spun it. There came a growling sound like that made by a truck going up a steep hill under a heavy load.

Out of a dynamo raced the lightning.

It hit Hauptmann’s brain first, knocking him senseless and throwing him, tense and shuddering, against the straps.

Yellow crept into the row of bulbs above Elliott’s wheel as the old mechanic of death, without even turning to look at his handiwork, poured more current through Hauptmann.

Now the lightning had stilled the heart and ravaged the reflexes.

Elliott’s arms moved once more. A plume of smoke was rising from the floor — signal that the ankle sponge was dry and hot.

The current went off.

Death is quick and cheap in the little white room. Elliott had used only about four minutes of time and 1.01 cents worth of electricity.

There was a file of physicians waiting on the right hand side of the chair. Dr Howard Wiesler, prison physician, stepped forward, a stethoscope dangling from his neck. Elliott parted the heavy gray shirt of Hauptmann’s body, and ripped loose the white cotton undershirt.

Wiesler laid his stethoscope on Hauptmann’s chest, then stepped back while the other doctors came forward. One of them was the Mercer County coroner’s physician, Dr Charles Mitchell, who performed the autopsy on the Lindbergh baby. Not until every doctor had examined Hauptmann and Wiesler had gone back for another search for a vagrant heartbeat was New Jersey satisfied that it had avenged the murder of the Lindbergh baby.

The Wiesler, without turning to the witnesses, said in a low voice:

“This man is dead.”

More stories you might like

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

join the fun

Don’t miss out on the latest and greatest vintage stuff!

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.