Monday, March 1, 2010

Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped!

Today in 1932, the 20 -month old son of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped around 9:00 p.m. from the Lindbergh’s home near Hopewell, New Jersey. The nanny noticed he was missing around 10:00 p.m. and reported it to his parents. A crudely constructed ladder was found near the baby’s window, along with a ransom note demanding $50,000.00 that had been left on the windowsill. The police were contacted and the search for the Lindbergh baby began.
            A series of ransom notes followed, and the Lindbergh’s were eventually sent a sleeping suit similar to one worn by their son to confirm that the kidnappers still held the baby captive. After working with the police, the federal government, and private investigators, the Lindbergh’s paid a ransom but were no closer to locating their son. On March 12, 1932, a truck driver made the gruesome discovery of the Lindbergh baby’s body on the side of a road a few miles from the Lindbergh’s home. The child had died from an apparent blow to the head.
            Following two more years of investigation, a German immigrant named Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested for the kidnapping and murder. Various witnesses had seen him spending the same gold certificates that made up the ransom, and his handwriting matched that on the ransom notes. He was tried and found guilty, and in 1936 he was electrocuted.
            Such a tragic story captivated the nation, and newspapers across the country followed the search for the Lindbergh baby, and later, the hunt for his killer, with rapt attention. When tragic events happen these days, the public often vilifies the media’s obsession with the morbid as a byproduct of the 24 hour news cycle. However true that may be, the story of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping shows that the public has always had an insatiable appetite for controversy and tragedy. Here is a 1935 newsreel showing the public’s continued obsession with the case, as it is included among the other “major events” of 1935.   

For more information on the case, check out the FBI’s record here

[Images via Consolatio and thegeminiweb]

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