The  following  article   first   appeared   in   CN's   previous
incarnation, "Conspiracy for the Day", on January 14, 1994.  Note
that  Carol Wallace's e-mail address (below) may or may not still
be current.
Today's "Conspiracy for the Day" (CfD) was written especially for
the  readers  of  CfD  by Carol Wallace.  The subject today deals
with the kidnapping  of  the  Lindbergh  baby  back in the 1930s.
Carol Wallace is an expert on the  subject,  having  written  her
master's  thesis  on  the  Lindbergh  kidnapping as well as being
widely read  in  the  history  of  that  era.   Wallace wrote her
doctoral dissertation on the Fatty Arbuckle scandal of 1921.  She
teaches Mass Media Law, with  a  special  interest  in  notorious
trials  and publicity.  Regarding the kidnapping of the Lindbergh
baby, she says, "I love  this  topic,  and  am glad to discuss it
anywhere."  She can be reached at
       The Kidnapping of the Lindbergh Baby
       by Carol Wallace
       Copyright (c) 1994 by Carol Wallace
       All Rights Reserved
       EXCLUSIVE to "Conspiracy for the Day"
"...comparisons between Lindbergh  and  Hauptmann  --that the two
men  were  very  similar  in  an  unbelievable  number  of  ways,
physically, through life and family history, etc.  was  as
though  Hauptmann  was  the  dark side of Lindbergh.  But, if the
latest theories have  any  validity  at  all,  it seems as though
Lindbergh was the real dark side."
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On March 1, 1932, Ollie Whateley, butler at the Charles Lindbergh
home in Hopewell, New Jersey, called the local police  to  report
that  the  Lindbergh's infant son had been stolen.  Within hours,
local and state police, plus press and ordinary sensation seekers
were all  over  the  grounds.   While  local  police  saw a crude
ladder, built in sections, lying near the window  from  which  it
appeared  the  baby  had  been  taken,  and two grooves where the
ladder had rested, most other  footprints and possible clues were
obliterated in the rush to investigate the rain-soaked grounds.
Lindbergh, hailed as the great American hero after  his  historic
New   York   to   Paris  flight  in  1927,  took  charge  of  the
investigation himself.  He refused to  allow other members of the
household to be questioned.  According  to  him,  the  child  was
discovered  missing  when  his  nursemaid,  Betty Gow, went in to
check on him and found  the  crib empty.  She reported this first
to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the child's mother, then they  went  to
Colonel Lindbergh's room.
"Do  you have the baby?" asked Anne.  Lindbergh denied having the
child, and accompanied his wife to the nursery.
The crib was empty.   Lindbergh  turned  to his wife.  "Anne," he
said.  "They have stolen our baby."
Instructing his wife and Betty Gow to  remain  where  they  were,
Lindbergh  shouted  to  the butler to phone the police, grabbed a
rifle, and raced outdoors.   When  the  butler came to report, he
found Lindbergh sitting in his car.  Lindbergh asked  the  butler
to  drive  into  town  and  buy  a  flashlight,  so that he could
investigate.   But  before  Whateley  could  do  so,  the  police
Lindbergh led them straight to the window under the child's room,
pointed out the  discarded  ladder,  and  led  them to the prints
which the ladder had left, and a footprint.  According to  police
reports, he was very calm and collected.
He  then led the police upstairs to the nursery, where he pointed
to an envelope resting against  the  window.  He told police that
he had ordered that it not be touched until a fingerprint  expert
could be summoned.
The   envelope   was  opened  in  the  presence  of  the  police.
Anonymous, it bore an elaborate  coded symbol as a signature, and
claimed that the writer and associates were holding the child for
ransom and would communicate the particulars later.   The  letter
appeared  to  have  been  written  by  someone  foreign, probably
The fingerprint expert found no prints on the envelope or letter.
Nor did he find  any  on  the  window,  or  the child's crib.  He
didn't even find Lindbergh's prints, or those of the nursemaid or
Anne Lindbergh, who had searched the room before  police  arrival
(incidentally, failing to notice the ransom note .)
Over  the next several months, Lindbergh continued to spearhead a
most unusual  investigation.   He  rejected  the  FBI's  offer of
assistance,  but  called  in  Morris  Rosner,  a  member  of  the
underworld.  Claiming that he was convinced that  the  kidnapping
was  the  work  of  organized  crime  leaders, he asked Rosner to
circulate the ransom note and see if he could get any information
from his underworld connections.
Soon after, Lindbergh received a call  from Dr. John F. Condon of
the Bronx.  Condon had placed  an  ad  in  the  Bronx  Home  News
offering to add his $1000 life savings to the ransom money if the
child  would  be  safely returned.  Condon told Lindbergh that he
had received a note from  the  kidnappers, appointing him the go-
between for the ransom negotiations.   Lindbergh  accepted  this,
and  it  was Condon, operating under the code name of Jafsie, who
went to the cemetery where the  transfer of money was supposed to
take place.  Condon, on his second visit,  turned  a  wooden  box
containing  $50,000  in gold certificates to a man whom he called
"Cemetery John."
John, he claimed, was of  medium  build, with a pointy face, high
cheekbones, slanted, dark, almost "oriental eyes", and  a  cough.
His  accent  sounded  either  German  or  Slavic, although Jafsie
claimed that he attempted some  German, but "John" did not appear
to understand.
Although the money was delivered as instructed, the child was not
returned.   Instead,  Jafsie  was  given  a  letter  which   gave
directions  to the childs supposed location on "boad Nellie" (the
allegedly Germanic spelling of "boat.") A determined sweep of the
area where boad Nellie was supposed to be found nothing.
The search for the child  ended  on  May,  12, 1932, when a truck
driver, stopping to relieve himself in the woods about two  miles
from  the  Lindbergh home, found the decomposed body of an infant
partially buried in a pile  of leaves.  The child's sexual organs
had been eaten away, but there was evidence of a skull  fracture,
as though the child had been dropped from a ladder.  Although the
Lindbergh   family   physician   could   not   make   a  positive
identification, Lindbergh, after a  90 second inspection where he
counted the corpse's teeth, identified the body as  that  of  his
son.  The kidnapping had now officially become a murder.
The search for  the  criminal  continued  for  two years.  Then a
German-born carpenter named Bruno Richard Hauptmann ,  with  high
cheekbones  and a pointy face, but fair and blue-eyed, was caught
passing one of the  bills  from  the ransom money.  Hauptmann was
arrested and charged with the kidnapping.
In what has since been termed the Trial of the Century, Hauptmann
was convicted, and sentenced to the electric chair, where he died
proclaiming his complete innocence.
The   fact  that  $18,000  of  the  ransom  money  was  found  in
Hauptmann's garage acted strongly against him.  Hauptmann claimed
that he found  the  money  in  a  package  left  with  him by his
business partner, Isador Fisch, before Fisch left on  a  trip  to
Germany.   Fisch  died  there, of tuberculosis.  While cleaning a
leaking closet, Hauptmann  rediscovered  the  box, and discovered
that it was full of waterlogged bills.  He claimed that  he  took
these  to his garage and began to dry them, hiding each bundle as
it dried.  Fisch, he said,  owed  him $7,000, so he felt entitled
to keep and use that portion of the money in the box.  Police and
reporters labeled this "the Fisch story."
Many legal experts and researchers believed Hauptmann, but  could
not  save him from the electric chair.  There were too many holes
in the case, too many unanswered  questions.  But in the 60 years
since then, four major theories have emerged  about  what  really
happened in Hopewell New Jersey that day in 1931.
The  first is that Hauptmann was guilty.  A variation of that was
that he was guilty, but had not acted alone.
The last two theories  are  more  startling.   In 1993, two books
came out claiming that there never had been  a  kidnapping;  that
Lindbergh and his family were actually covering up a killing.
The  premise that the kidnap was a coverup appears to answer many
of the  questions  that  the  arrest  and  execution of Hauptmann
raised.    Much   of   the   evidence   against   Hauptmann   was
unsatisfactory; much of it was plainly manufactured.  And much of
Lindbergh's conduct during  the  trial  is,  in  hindsight,  very
peculiar.   A  quick  review  of the basic questions answered and
left open, will demonstrate this.
Hauptmann was convicted basically on 7 points of evidence.
1.  He had $15,000  of  the  ransom  money, and explained it away
with the "Fisch story."  Since Fisch was conveniently dead, there
didn't appear to be any way to confirm this.
However:  $30,000 of the ransom  money  remains  undiscovered  to
this  day.   And  almost  $3,000 in gold certificates were turned
into the bank when the county  went  off the gold standard by one
JJ Faulkner.  Faulkner was the known  pseudonym  of  a  convicted
master  forger,  Jacob  Novitsky (a man with a pointed face, dark
complexion and dark,  almost  oriental  eyes)  who bragged to his
cellmates of his involvement in  the  extortion  of  the  ransom.
Just before Hauptmann's execution, Faulkner wrote to New Jersey's
Governor Hoffman claiming that they had arrested the wrong man.
2.  Police found, at the site of the crime, a 3/4" chisel.   When
they examined the toolbox of Hauptmann, a carpenter, they claimed
that  he  had  no  3/4"  chisel,  but that this would be standard
equipment for any  competent  worker.   Forty  years later, crime
reporter Anthony Scaduto checked the archives  of  the  New  York
police,  and  found not only the chisel found at the scene of the
crime, but two more,  wrapped  in  a  brown bag labeled "Found in
Hauptmann's garage."
3.  Two  witnesses  came  forward  to  say  that  they  had  seen
Hauptmann  in  the Hopewell area the day of the crime.  A foreman
from the  Majestic  Corp.,  for  which  Hauptmann  claimed he was
employed on that day, brought forth a  time  card  purporting  to
show  that he had not been at work.  If Hauptmann was working, he
would not have had  time  to  get  to Hopewell within the correct
time framework to commit the crime.
a.  One of the witnesses who placed Hauptmann at  the  scene  was
legally  blind.  In the prosecutor's office, he identified a vase
of flowers as  a  woman's  hat.   Yet  he  claimed  to be able to
recognize the face of a man going by in a car.  The second was  a
known pathological liar who denied categorically that he had seen
anything unusual until the offer of a reward was announced.
b.   Police  had  these  witnesses pick Hauptmann from a line-up.
The line-up consisted of the blond, slight Hauptmann, a burly and
very  Irish  detective,  and   a   policeman  still  in  uniform.
Hauptmann was the only one who even resembled the description  of
"cemetery John" given by Jafsie.
c.   On  the  time card which allegedly showed that Hauptmann had
not worked that  day,  all  other  workers  who  were absent were
marked with a line of zeros.  Hauptmann's line  was  marked  with
blots, suggesting that something beneath had been blotted out.
4.   Dr.  John F. Condon identified Hauptmann in court as the man
with whom he negotiated the ransom.
Until his appearance in the courtroom, Condon refused to identify
him; at one point, on record,  he said that it was definitely not
"cemetery John."
5.  In court, the prosecution produced a board  from  Hauptmann's
closet   which   had  scribbled  on  it  Jafsie's  phone  number.
Hauptmann couldn't recall  writing  it  there,  but conceded that
since it was in his closet, maybe he did,  because  he  had  been
interested in following the case.
A  reporter  for  the New York Daily News later bragged to fellow
reporters that he had written the  number there himself, on a day
when there was no fresh news in the case and his editors were  on
his back for front page material.
For  those who doubt this, consider two things.  Hauptmann had no
phone.  If  he  was  using  a  pay  phone  to  contact Jafsie, he
probably would use something more portable than a closet board to
record the number on.  Also, to see the number, one had to remove
both shelves in  the  closet  and  stand  in  the  back  using  a
flashlight.    Hardly   convenient   for  quick  and  unobtrusive
6.  Police claimed to have  found  a missing board in Hauptmann's
attic  which  matched  the  wood  in  the  kidnap  ladder.   This
"missing" board was discovered after several  previous  searches.
And  when  the board in question was matched against the piece it
was allegedly cut away  from,  it  proved  to be thicker than the
board still  in  the  attic  floor.   This  caused  New  Jersey's
governor,  Harold  Hoffman,  to  make an open accusation that the
evidence had been falsified.
7.  The piece  of  evidence  that  apparently carried most weight
with the jury was Lindbergh's identification of Hauptmann's voice
as the same one he heard in the cemetery .  This was a voice that
Lindbergh heard, only once, two years earlier, from a distance of
several hundred feet, shouting only 5-6 syllables -- either "hey,
Doc!  Over hear"  or  "hey  Doctor,  over  here."   Most  experts
expressed  great doubt about the validity of this identification,
but the jury was impressed.
Another point in Hauptmann's favor was the ladder itself.  It was
very crude, causing most  people  who knew woodworking to believe
that no carpenter had ever made it.
Consider, too.   William  Randolph  Hearst,  who  instructed  his
reporters to cover the trial in a manner that would light a flame
of  indignation  in  people everywhere, then paid for Hauptmann's
defense lawyer,  Edward  J.  Reilly.   Reilly  was suffering from
syphilis which caused  his  institutionalization  several  months
later,  he  routinely had several martinis at lunch during trial,
and spent less than 40  minutes  in consultation with his client.
He was paid up front, regardless of the outcome of the trial.
There is clear evidence that more than one person was involved in
the collection of the ransom.  In the files of the  Bronx  police
dept.,  Anthony  Scaduto found an FBI document giving Lindbergh's
description of a dark, swarthy man  with a rolling gait who acted
as lookout for cemetery John.
This was  never  brought  out  at  trial.   Kidnap  notes  always
referred  to  plural collectors, which may or may not have been a
rhetorical  device  to   mislead  investigators.   However,  when
Lindbergh called Morris Rosner  in  to  help  the  investigation,
Rosner  showed copies of the original note to many members of the
underworld.  Contemporary  handwriting  experts  appear to concur
that the first ransom note was written by a different person than
those that followed.  (There were people willing  to  testify  to
that effect during Hauptmann's trial, but they were not permitted
to  testify,  since  that  would  have  ruined  the "lone killer"
Jafsie relates  that,  during  one  phone  conversation  with the
Scandinavian (both Condon and the  cabdriver  who  delivered  the
ransom-collector's  note to Condon originally stated that the man
was Scandinavian,  not  German)  he  heard  another  voice in the
background shouting "Statto cito" [shut up, in Italian.]
Given the peculiar construction of the kidnap  ladder,  it  would
have  been  impossible  for a single person to descend the ladder
with the child.  First, it  would  not  hold more than 160 pounds
without breaking, according to police tests.  The child would add
an extra 30 pounds.  Second, the rungs were so  awkwardly  spaced
that  it would take all but an extremely tall person two hands to
If Hauptmann (or Fisch)  acted  alone,  where  is the rest of the
ransom money?  And how did Jacob Novitsky, alias JJ Faulkner, get
at least $3000 of that money?
The latest theories claim that there was no  kidnapping  at  all;
that  the kidnap story was devised as a way to cover-up the guilt
of a member of the Lindbergh  family.  In this theory, the ransom
collection was separate from the death of the child;  it  was  an
attempt  by underworld figures to cash in on the Lindbergh's when
they were in a vulnerable position.
Many researchers have  questioned Lindbergh's behavior throughout
the investigation.  Burdened by  their  belief  in  the  original
premise  --  that  there  was  a  kidnapper  at large who must be
treated carefully  so  that  he  wouldn't  harm  the child-- they
explained this behavior as both fear of criminal reprisal and  an
attempt  to  protect  his  wife.  Scaduto seemed to question this
protective  instinct,  despite  his   apparent  acceptance  of  a
kidnapping theory.  Lindbergh was not the tender protecting type.
He was given to cruel practical  jokes,  and  was  essentially  a
rather  cold  person.   The  cover-up  theory,  however, explains
Lindbergh's behavior, and a few other questions unanswered by the
arrest and conviction of Hauptmann.
1.  Why would a kidnapper choose  to steal the child during hours
when household members were  still  awake  and  obviously  moving
around the house?
2.  How did the kidnapper get down the ladder carrying a 30 pound
child?   At  the  time  of  their  original investigation, police
insisted that the criminals  must  have exited through the house,
and initially suspected a member of the household.
3.  Why were there NO fingerprints at all in  the  child's  room?
Anne  Lindbergh  and Betty Gow both admited to searching the room
when they first discovered that  the  child was missing, but when
police arrived on the scene,  their  fingerprints  were  missing,
4.   Why  did  the two women not see the ransom note during their
search of the room, so that Lindbergh was able to spot it when he
reentered?  And why  was  it  left  on  the  windowsill, when the
criminal was already burdened with the child, instead of  in  the
crib, which would have been the logical place to put it?  And, on
discovering  that  his  child  was  missing, how could any loving
father have ordered that the note be left untouched, and leave it
so for two full hours until  a fingerprint expert arrived to open
and read the note?
5.  Why did the family dog, Whagoosh, prone  to  barking  at  the
slightest  disturbance,  not bark on the night of the crime?  And
why, when the entire staff  and Anne Lindbergh testified that the
dog always barked at disturbances and  at  strangers  approaching
the house, did Lindbergh deny this?
6.   Why did Lindbergh refuse the offer of help from the FBI, and
consistently  refuse  to  allow   police  to  carry  out  routine
investigative procedures, then call in members of the  underworld
to help the investigation?
7.   Why,  after  Lindbergh  observed  Hauptmann  shouting  "Hey,
Doctor"  did he wait 10 days before deciding that Hauptmann's was
the voice he had heard in the cemetery?
8.  Why did Lindbergh refuse to allow police to question his wife
or household staff following his  report  that the child had been
9.  How, if he had no flashlight, did Lindbergh  manage  to  lead
the police straight to the marks left by the ladder in the ground
beneath the nursery window?
10.   How would an outside criminal know that the Lindberghs were
at the Hopewell house  that  Tuesday,  when they had never before
stayed longer than Saturday through Monday?
11.  How did the alleged kidnappers  know  exactly  which  window
were  the  child's, and of those, which one was warped so that it
wouldn't latch?  This  fact  could  not  be determined by routine
These questions made many people suspicious, even at the time  of
the  investigation.   If  Lindbergh had not been the superhero of
his times, they  would  not  have  been  brushed aside so easily;
today it is almost certain that he or a family member would  have
led the list of suspects.  But, in 1931, Lindbergh symbolized all
that  Americans most claimed to value, so any thought of possible
conspiracy was dismissed as unthinkable.
However, there are two theories  that  appear to answer the above
The first, presented in Noel Behn's "Lindbergh:  The  Crime",  is
that  the  child was murdered by Anne's sister, Elizabeth Morrow.
Charles Lindbergh  originally  courted  Elizabeth,  and the press
reported rumors of an engagement.  However, Elizabeth flew to the
aid of an ailing brother, and when Lindbergh paid a return  visit
to  the  Morrow  home, only Anne was there.  They began to court,
and married.  Elizabeth had  a  mild  heart attack following this
news, and there is some evidence of a nervous breakdown.
After the birth of Charles  Lindbergh,  Jr.,  several  disturbing
incidents  led  his  parents to give strict orders that the child
was never to be  left  alone  with Elizabeth.  Household servants
all filed affidavits that Elizabeth Morrow killed the family dog,
and once  threw  young  Charlie  out  along  with  the  household
According  to  Behn's theory, the staff DID leave Elizabeth alone
with Charlie.  And, to  avoid  further disgrace, further hounding
of the family by the press, the family spent two days dreaming up
a way to cover up the crime.  The kidnap story  was  the  result;
the fact that Morris Rossner's display of the kidnap note sparked
an  extortion  scheme  played  right  into  the  plans,  since it
appeared to confirm  that  there  really  was  a  kidnap gang out
Elizabeth Morrow was  institutionalized  soon  after  the  crime.
Gossip  about her possible involvement persisted, at least in low
key whispers at least through  the  50s.  However, to accept this
theory, one must also accept that  not  only  Lindbergh  but  the
entire  Morrow  family,  and  the  staffs of both households were
involved in the cover-up, and  that  they all lied on the witness
stand, knowingly sending an innocent man to his death.
The  second  theory,  on  its  face,  is  even  more  incredible:
Lindbergh himself killed the child in the course of  a  practical
joke.   Lindbergh  was known for cruel practical jokes.  He often
filled bunkmates beds  with  lizards  and  other reptiles; on one
occasion he put a snake in the bed of a man who was terrified  of
them.   Asked  if  the snake had been venomous, Lindbergh replied
"Yes, but not fatally."  He  also  filled a friend's canteen with
kerosene and watched him drink it; the man was  hospitalized  for
severe internal burns.  And, only two weeks prior to the reported
kidnapping,  Lindbergh  hid the child in a closet then ran to his
wife's room, claiming the child had been stolen.  He let the joke
go on for 20 terrifying minutes before confessing.
In "Crime  of  the  Century",  Ahlgren  and  Monier theorize that
Lindbergh tried that joke one too many times.  In their scenario,
Lindbergh called home to say  he  would  be  late,  but  actually
arrived  at  the  usual time.  He climbed his makeshift ladder to
his son's room, planning to  spirit  the  child out and arrive at
the front door with him in hand, claiming  something  like  "Look
who  I  met  in  New  York."   Unfortunately,  the  ladder broke,
Lindbergh slipped, and the  child's  head was smashed against the
side of the house.  Lindbergh  then  hid  the  body,  went  home,
failed  to  check on his young son even though the child had been
sick, and spent some  time  in  his  study alone before Betty Gow
reported the child's disappearance.  Ahlgren and Monier speculate
that Lindbergh wrote the original ransom note during  this  time.
Most experts agree that the wording of the note was typical of an
English  speaking person trying to sound Germanic, rather than of
a real German.
To accept this  theory,  as  amazing  as  it  may be, is somewhat
easier than to believe the charge against Elizabeth Morrow.   The
great  American  hero  was  above  suspicion.  Police would never
think to check his  alibi,  to  see  why  he arrived home an hour
later than usual that night.  Nor did they hesitate to follow his
orders  throughout  the   investigation,   although   they,   not
Lindbergh, were the trained investigators.
An analysis of Lindbergh's character makes this sort of practical
joke  a  strong  possibility;  that  he  could  cover  it  up  so
successfully  can  be  attributed both to the awe in which he was
held, and the successful diversion  of  the ransom note.  Much of
Lindbergh's  more  peculiar  behavior  can   be   attributed   to
understandable moments of panic.
In  the  late 1930s, when Lindbergh openly associated with Nazis,
and made  many  public  statements  about  the  desirability of a
Master Race here in America, there were some fitful  rumors  that
Lindbergh  had  killed  his  own child because it was genetically
defective -- retarded.  As  war  and memory faded, these whispers
died down.  Baby boomers, if they knew much  about  the  case  at
all,  tended  to  hear  it from the perspective of Lindbergh, the
vulnerable hero; his later politics forgotten.
There is no proof that  Lindbergh  in  fact killed his own child;
however, the theory answers questions left  open  by  Hauptmann's
arrest and execution.  And in this theory, only one person had to
keep  a  dreadful  secret and perjure himself.  If true, however,
Lindbergh is guilty not only of the  death of his son, but of the
cold and deliberate murder of Bruno Richard Hauptmann.