On March 1st, 1932, aviation hero Charles Lindbergh’s 20 month old son – Charles Lindbergh III - was kidnapped from the family’s mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey. The kidnapper, using a ladder, had entered the boy’s bedroom through a window, leaving behind a ransom note demanding $50,000.
The crime captured the attention of the entire nation and the Lindberghs were inundated with offers of information and assistance – including Al Capone’s offer to help from his prison cell.
After three days – and no progress by the authorities - which included Chief of the New Jersey State Police Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., a second ransom note was received - now demanding $70,000 - and instructions for its delivery. The Lindberghs complied and were then informed their young son was on a boat off the coast of Massachusetts. It was all for naught. Young Charles’ body was found soon afterwards, less than a mile from the Lindbergh home; he had been murdered the night of the abduction. The heartbroken Lindberghs ended up donating their mansion to charity and moved away.
In September 1934 a marked bill from the ransom money turned up at a gas station. The attendant who had accepted the bill was suspicious of the driver who gave it to him and wrote down the car’s license plate number. It was tracked back to a German immigrant and carpenter, Bruno Hauptmann. When his home was searched, detectives found more of the Lindbergh ransom money. Hauptmann claimed that a friend had given him the money to hold and that he had no connection to the crime.
The subsequent trial was a national sensation. The prosecution's case included the ransom money and testimony from handwriting experts claiming that the ransom note had been written by Hauptmann. For some, not a particularly strong case, but it was enough to convict Hauptmann. He was executed in April 1936.
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