Two months after his kidnapping, the 20-month-old baby was found dead. His badly decomposed body was found by a truck driver relieving himself in the forest. Medical reports claimed the toddler was killed by a blow to the head.
The shocking event, which was marked “The greatest story since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” by journalist H.L. Mence, was one of the most stirring child abduction cases of the 20th century. The American aviator hero, Charles Lindbergh’s child, was kidnapped and killed by a German immigrant, Bruno Richard Hauptmann.
Lindbergh first met his future wife, Anne Morrow, the daughter of the American ambassador in Mexico City. The young couple swore eternal fidelity to each other on June 22, 1930. Their first child, Charles Jr., whose life ended tragically, was born on June 22, 1930, on his mother Anne’s birthday.
The little Lindbergh was abducted from the family’s house in Hopewell, New Jersey, on March 1, 1932. The kidnapper first demanded a ransom of 50 then 70 thousand dollars for the boy’s release. Lindbergh put up the money that was handed over to the criminal at a cemetery on April 2. In spite of the desperate effort, the baby would not return home alive – his body was found in a forest situated nearby the Lindberg house two months later.
A desperate search began. Police started to track down bills from the ransom money but failed to find the perpetrators. Finally, on September 17, 1934, a $10 gold certificate that was included in the ransom was used at a gas station. Gold certificates were being withdrawn from circulation and their appearance were quite unusual at that time. The attendant at the gas station recorded the license plate number of the car.
After a car chase, Hauptmann was captured by the police on September 19. The suspected kidnapper denied everything but more than 10 thousand dollars of the ransom money was found in his garage. “The Most Hated Man in the World” was tried and sentenced to death. The Hauptmann execution was carried out in an electric chair called “Old Sparky” at the New Jersey State Prison on April 2, 1936. Driven by the serious capital crime, the Congress adopted the Federal Kidnapping Act that allowed federal authorities to effectively pursue kidnappers across state lines.
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