this day in crime history: march 1, 1932

On this date in 1932, Charles Lindbergh Jr., the 20 month old son of the famous aviator, was kidnapped from the family’s home near Hopewell, NJ. After weeks of negotiations, a ransom was paid and instructions were given where to find the child. The instructions, which directed the family to a nonexistent boat in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, were bogus. The boy’s body was found on May 12th in the woods near the Lindbergh home.

The investigation went on for two and a half years. In September of 1934, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested after passing some of the gold certificates from the ransom. A search of Hauptmann’s home yielded over $13,000 of the ransom money. Hauptmann maintained his innocence, but was convicted of murder. He was executed by electrocution on April 3, 1936.

As a result of the Lindbergh case, the federal Kidnapping Act, also known as the Lindbergh Law, was passed making kidnapping a federal offense, falling under the jurisdiction of the FBI.

Further reading:

FBI Famous Cases – The Lindbergh Kidnapping

Crime Museum – The Lindbergh Kidnapping

Wikipedia – Lindbergh kidnapping

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4 thoughts on “this day in crime history: march 1, 1932

  1. Maybe. There were a lot of questions in this case. There are those who say the decomposed (almost skeletonized) baby was smaller than the Lindbergh baby, and too decomposed for the amount of time he was allegedly dead in the cold. (I don’t see how anyone could identify the body, judging from the photos I’ve seen.) Some researchers claim that the money was planted in Hauptmann’s house, and that he was railroaded. There is even a book (whose name escapes me) whose author claims that the baby was never even kidnapped, but was killed by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s mentally ill sister (who was sent to New York the next day), and the whole kidnapping was made up to protect her. When the baby was found and Hauptmann was charged, it was too late to admit the truth.
    I’m not saying I believe any of these theories. After all, most of the “researchers” were looking for a payday. But the investigation, with the amateur money drop and the circulation of the ransom notes, was not law enforcement’s finest hour.
    By the way, there are no black helicopters outside my window. I just checked. (Do they use drones now?)

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    • There were a lot of things that were “off” about that case. I’ve often wondered if Hauptmann was just an opportunist who heard about the kidnapping and saw a chance to make some money. Sadly, we’ll probably never know for sure.

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  2. John D.:
    MY Dad always believed that Hauptman was “set up”, but even today, you can’t rule out several other suppositions that carry as much weight as that.
    Shame we may never find out.

    Stay safe & warm out there.

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