Inside the Mysterious Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping

In a tragic crime, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the baby of Charles Lindberg, the famous aviator was kidnapped on March 1, 1932, apparently for ransom. The body of the baby was recovered sometime later but it has never been positively identified as that of the kidnapped child. Many controversies have been raised about the case and some of the issues discussed in this paper are that the criminal Bruno Hauptmann who was convicted and executed for the crime was not wholly responsible for the crime; the police mishandled the case and that Charles Lindberg Sr. hampered the case with his interference.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI History, 2006) has given a detailed account of the case. According to the report, initially, the local police arrived in large numbers at the crime scene and trooped around the crime scene, destroying and contaminating all possible evidence. The activities of the police were not directed by a senior official and consequently, valuable evidence was lost in the initial crucial period. Though the kidnappers had instructed that total secrecy be maintained, the media and the police gave the case wide publicity and this may have panicked the kidnappers who sent a total of seven ransom notes, each time increasing the ransom amount till, in the final letter, they made a demand for 100,000 USD, which was a very big amount in those days. According to the FBI records, the ransom money was paid two times through different intermediaries but the child could not be saved.

Wide doubts have been raised in the trial and the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann was executed on the electric chair. According to Newton (2004), there was a large amount of circumstantial evidence that leads to the conviction and the evidence has been doubted. The author has suggested that Bruno was innocent of the crime. Bruno was found in possession of the gold certificate Lindberg had paid and Bruno later claimed that a friend who later went to Germany and died there left the money in his garage. Bruno was a carpenter and a ladder left at the crime site matched with the wood found in Bruno’s garage. It was argued by the trial lawyers that Bruno was absent from work and this has been disputed by Bruno’s colleagues who claimed that Bruno was on duty at the time of the kidnapping and that the Police had ignored the time cards that Bruno filled at his workplace. One of the most damming pieces of evidence was the scrawled telephone number in a closet of Bruno’s house, of Dr. Joseph F. Condon, the person who delivered the ransom money. A reporter later admitted that he had written the telephone number. It was consequently discovered that the ransom currency, identified by the serial numbers, kept reappearing now and then. Newton suggests that the police in a hurry to end the case and obtain a conviction planted much of the evidence and that they beat up Bruno to make him confess to a crime he never committed.

Newton (2004) has argued that the role of Charles Lindberg Sr. stands to be criticized. The author has pointed that Lindbergh had a massive ego and wanted his point of view to prevail in all investigations and the stand severely hampered the investigation. The author has also mentioned several conspiracy theories such as Charles himself killed the baby while playing and created the kidnapping drama; that the kidnapping was an inside drama and the main perpetrators were the maid and the butler. The author has also mentioned several cases where people have made claims that they are the missing Lindberg baby. These stories reflect the wide attention that the case drew. As a result of the kidnapping, a special law was passed that made kidnapping a federal offense, and people who were convicted faced the death penalty.

References

FBI History. (2006). Famous Cases: The Lindbergh Kidnapping. Web.

Newton, Michael. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes. Checkmark Books.

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