AMBOY SPOTLIGHT: The case that never dies—Lindbergh Kidnapping

Dr. Lloyd C. Gardner and Donald Peck. —photos by Vilma Nokak

By Vilma Novak — 

It was on March 1, 1932, a night of gloom and rain, at the Lindbergh estate, located on a long dirt road’s end, in Hopewell, NJ, that Charles Lindbergh, Jr. (Charlie), 8 months old, was found missing by the maid.

Not a sound, no baby’s cry disturbed the night. A ladder was discovered perched outside the nursery window. Bruno Richard Hauptmann, determined to be the sole perpetrator, was arrested 2 ½ years later for kidnapping baby Charlie. Hauptmann was eventually convicted and sentenced to death by electric chair. He was executed April 3, 1936.

How was it possible for one person to climb a ladder, enter the Lindbergh baby’s nursery and, while holding the baby, descend the ladder to escape undetected?

Don Katz and Dr. Lloyd C. Gardner. — photos by Vilma Novak

Why were the Lindberghs at their Hopewell estate that Tuesday night? They were normally there only on weekends.

Was Charles Lindbergh ever implicated in the kidnapping?

Why were there no curtains on the Lindbergh windows since Charles Lindberg had a dubious relationship to fame and wanted extreme privacy.

Why did the Lindberghs restrain baby Charlie by securing his blanket with large pins to the bed at night?

Why was Agatha Christie inspired by the Lindberg case to write “Murder on the Orient Express”?

Why was Perth Amboy’s own David Wilentz, New Jersey’s Attorney General, appointed by Governor A. Harry Moore to be the prosecuting attorney?

Why did William Randolph Hurst pay Ed “Death House” Reilly, a flamboyant bon vivant from Brooklyn, to defend Hauptmann?

Why did the ransom notes contain symbols of interlocking circles and wavy lines?

Why was J. Edgar Hoover suspicious of Charles Lindberg?

Why did Al Capone offer to help solve the case?

These and many other fascinations surrounding the Lindbergh kidnapping were presented by Lloyd C. Gardner, Ph.D., author and Professor of History at Rutgers University. The event was on sponsored by Perth Amboy Ferry Slip Museum on March 4 at the Raritan Bay YMCA Theater. Some of these questions can be answered and more curiosities discovered in Dr. Gardner’s book “The Case that never Dies-The Lindbergh Kidnapping” and on his blog at:

There are so many things to wonder about the Lindberg kidnapping and the Hauptmann trial it’s no wonder that the case has yet to die.

*photos by Vilma Novak

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