On the evening of Tuesday, March 1, 1936, between the hours of eight and tenthirty in the evening, a person or persons entered a nursury room in a home in Hopewell, New Jersey, and kidnapped a 20monthold toddler. The little boy's name was Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. He was the son of the shy aviator and national hero, the first man to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. The same night, Lindbergh discovered the first in a series of ransom notes. One of the most dramatic and controversial criminal cases in American history had begun.
In accordance with the instructions contained in the notes, Lindbergh would eventually pay $50,000 to the kidnapper or kidnappers. But on May 12, the body of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., was discovered in a shallow grave near Mount Rose, New Jersey, only about a mile from the Lindbergh house (but several miles by the winding local roads). Examination of the child's skeletal remains indicated that he had died over two months earlier probably on the day he was kidnapped.
Some two years later, a Germanimmigrant carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann was arrested in possession of some of the ransom money, and charged with the crime. In a complex and, in the view of some, questionable legal meneuver, Hauptmann was spirited from New York City, where under New York state law he could only be tried on secondary charges, to New Jersey, where he could be at least potentially subjected to the death penalty. Even in New Jersey, however, a roundabout legal argument had had to be contrived in order to charge Hauptmann with a capital offense.
The evidentiary case against Hauptmann proved to be as complex and as roundabout as the formal charges. No direct evidence was ever found to tie Bruno Hauptmann to the kidnapmurder of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. There was, however, a massive and varied body of circumstantial evidence. He fit a pioneering "psychological profile" whic...