The Richard Hauptmann Case (Lindbergh Kidnapping)

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The incredible corruption I have witnessed the last few years (e.g., Jefferson County, Amanda Knox case) has caused me to look at things differently.  Recently I saw the NOVA program on the Lindbergh kidnapping.  It wasn’t great and it didn’t offer anything really new factually, but it spurred me to look into the whole thing.  Call it an American Experience.  From the PBS website:

Program Description

In the aftermath of his 1927 solo transatlantic flight, Colonel Charles Augustus Lindbergh–the Lone Eagle–became the most famous human being on earth. And when he and his lovely wife Anne produced an adorable baby son, Charlie, an eager press quickly dubbed him Little Lindy or sometimes just the Eaglet. But on the evening of March 1, 1932 Lucky Lindy’s luck ran out. Bold kidnappers snatched his baby from the family home near Hopewell, New Jersey, while everyone in the house was awake. Negotiations with the kidnappers stretched out for weeks. But Little Charlie never came back. His body was discovered not five miles from Hopewell. Now, NOVA is reopening one of the most intriguing, grisly, and confounding crime mysteries of all time as a team of expert investigators employ state-of-the-art forensic and behavioral science techniques in an effort to determine what really happened to Lindbergh’s baby and why.

The Lindbergh kidnapping–indeed the name Charles Lindbergh itself–is one of those things that keeps cropping up and, if you don’t know what it is all about, well, it is important to understand history and its impact.  Even worse, it can be exasperating to try and a) differentiate between the facts and all the revisionist, even wild, theories and b) put it in a context of what it really means.

This is an excellent site and Allen Koenigsberg provides facts.  Here is another one that accurately tells the story.  The evidence is fairly scant but it is sufficient to establish Richard Hauptmann as involved, if not–most likely–the sole perpetrator.  The amount of investigative resources expended and the massive worldwide publicity and scrutiny makes it nearly impossible not to trust what went on at the time.

It is astounding to think that one person could pull off such a blockbuster but that seems to be what happened.  And he very nearly got away with it.  How was he caught?  He continued to spend the ransom money and, in particular, to pass “gold notes” which had been withdrawn from circulation; this was his fatal mistake.  It is worth noting that one of the reasons Hauptmann so nearly succeeded was Charles Lindbergh’s insistence on managing the ransom effort and aspects of the investigation.  Given Hauptmann’s intimate if not sole involvement, and no proof that Charles, Jr. was still alive, nabbing the kidnapper at the ransom exchange was the thing to do, but Lindbergh himself prevented it.

The kidnapping is of course tied to the aviator Lindbergh, his accomplishments and his fame.  Aside from the feat of flying from New York to Paris in 1927 he was not a great man.  He was racist and anti-Semetic, he had little education or skills (outside of those as a pilot), he was, call it “unsuccessful,” as a spokesman and public figure, and he had mistresses/secret wives with whom he bore children while married.  He was given the the gift of huge fame and wealth at a young age and he squandered what could have been a much more productive life.

It is the “Crime of the Century” (last century)

And here is a documentary–it comes off as kind of sensational but it too seems completely factual–casting doubt on the ethics of the justice system.  .

I offer the following FAQs for Mr. Koenigsberg.


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