The Lindbergh Law, lawsuit of the century, a murder mystery – all these describe the events of 1st March 1932, when the one-year-old Charles was kidnapped. However, there is never a word that can fully explain the effect that the Lindbergh baby kidnapping had on the country; almost a century later.
Who Was the Lindbergh Baby?
Charles Lindbergh Jnr. was the son of Charles Lindbergh Sr., a St. Louis pilot. The boy went missing for three months after he was kidnapped from his crib in March 1932. The baby’s nurse put him in the crib at 7:30 pm. Two hours later, the father had some noises coming from the wooden crib. At 10:00 pm, the nurse discovered that the baby wasn’t in his crib.
The Kidnapping and Ransom Note
According to the accounts by the adults in the house, the baby could have been kidnapped at around 9:00 pm. When Lindbergh established that the baby wasn’t with his nurse or the mother, he searched the room and found a ransom note. After reading the letter, apparently, Lindbergh searched the house on end before deciding to call the police. That marked the beginning of a fruitless search all over the country.
For three months, the family members and the FBI looked for the baby by all means possible. They even fulfilled the ransom request, but Lindbergh Jnr. was nowhere to be found. The kidnappers would later make two more ransom requests, one of which was for $70,000. The cat and mouse game ensued, and by now the story had caught the public eye.
The case took a heartbreaking turn on 12th May when a lifeless body of Charles Lindbergh Jnr. was found. The child’s body was severely decomposed and was collected less than five miles from the Lindbergh residence. An autopsy established that he was killed during or shortly after his kidnapping by a blow to the head.
The Lindbergh Law
All this while, the FBI had been acting in an advisory capacity. After 12th May, 1932, they were authorized to serve as the primary body in charge of the case. Public outrage forced the U.S. Congress to pass a law that made kidnapping across state lines a federal indictment that was punishable by death. It came to pass on 22nd June 1932, which would have been baby Lindbergh’s second birthday.
Trial of the Century
The numbers on the bills that the family paid to the kidnappers were marked and the word was spread throughout the country. That way, anyone that spent this money was a suspect. That is how Richard Hauptmann, a German immigrant, was arrested and convicted for baby Lindbergh’s murder. He was found in possession of $14,000 of the initial $50,000 that was paid as ransom.
However, Hauptmann claimed that he was keeping the money for Isidore Fisch, who has since returned to Germany and died in 1933. Hauptmann’s former criminal charges made him strengthened the case against him. He was sentenced for murder on 1st October 1934.
The Controversy Around the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping
Regardless of the outcome of the case, it remains one of the most controversial cases in American history. Some people say that Lindbergh knew the culprit but wouldn’t say and that Hauptmann was a scapegoat. Others feel that Charles Lindbergh may have accidentally killed the son and staged the kidnapping to cover his deeds!