The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case is one of the most notorious cases of the 20th century.
Sidney B. Whipple’s The Trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann is the controversial case of the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. Originally published by a reporter who covered the story, it is mainly comprised of the actual court transcript. More than eighty years after the crime, serious questions remain regarding the guilt or innocence of the man convicted and executed for the murder of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s twenty-month-old son in 1932. Lindbergh was, at the time, America’s greatest living hero following his solo trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris in 1927. When he and his family moved to remote Hopewell, New Jersey, it was to establish a quiet life. This quiet life was shattered on the evening of March 1st, 1932, when Charles Jr. was taken from his nursery. The child’s body was found in a wooded area two months later, not far from the Lindbergh home.
In September 1934, a German immigrant, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was arrested, having passed a bill from the $50,000 ransom paid by Lindbergh. Moreover, at his trial, handwriting experts linked him to the ransom notes, and a technologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture testified that Hauptmann had made the ladder used in the kidnapping. Though Hauptmann’s fingerprints were not found on the notes or the ladder or, for that matter, anywhere in the nursery, and though no reliable witness placed him at the scene of the crime, the jury turned in a verdict of guilty. Legal scholars have characterized the trial as patently unfair. Was Hauptmann indeed guilty, or was he a victim of a miscarriage of justice?
As a direct result of the case, US Congress passed the Federal Kidnapping Act popularly known as the Lindbergh Law.