Lindbergh Kidnapping

Lindberg Kidnapping

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The Lindberg kidnapping was one of, and the most to some, notorious crime and/or kidnapping in the 20th century. The ways and means that had to be used given the targets of the kidnapping, what happened to the child after being taken and so forth all change crime scene and death investigations in general forever. There is plenty of controversy associated with the crime even though the man convicted was given a chance to have his life spared the death penalty if he copped to the crime but he refused and he also refused a pay-off from a local publication.

One of the things that jumps out to the author of this report is that the convicted man, Mr. Hauptmann, was able to at least delay his death sentence if he just admitted he did it but he ostensibly either did and refused to give the public the satisfaction of hearing him say it or he simply refused to admit to something he did not do even if it cost him his life (Linder, 2005). The forensic evidence for the case was pretty solid although a lot of the evidence that ended up convicting Hauptmann was circumstantial and fairly thin at best.

For example, even the best forensic analysis of the ransom notes cannot definitively tie the notes to Hauptmann even though most of them agree his guilt is likelybut certainly not precise. Also, the tracking of the ransom money bills also came close to busting a few people but no “jackpot” was garnered from that either. An eyewitness put him near the scene but that proves little.

All of this adds up to the idea that perhaps Hauptmann did NOT commit the crime and, as a matter of principle, he refused to admit to the crime. Another complicating factor was the actions of John Condon which were probably not much more than grandstanding and media theater. The parallels between that and other public figures that, while almost certainly if not definitely involved, distract from the case and its solving are not hard to find in much more recent cases like the Chandra Levy death and the associate foot-dragging by politician Gary Condit and the involvement of media icon Nancy Grace in several cases including one where a harassed potential perpetrator committed suicide after being pestered by Nancy Grace and others (Lohr, 2012)(, 2013).

Speaking of Nancy Grace, much the same thing as the woman in the more modern case committing suicide happened during the Lindbergh case. However, the pressure that was brought on this person was by the police and the involved party was Violet Sharpe. The problem with Sharpe was that she seemingly provided contradictory information to investigators and it was feared that she was involved or ran the kidnapping. As it turns out, her alibi was verified by she committed suicide due to potentially losing her job and the overall pressure of the police investigation. She was about to be questioned a fourth time around the time that she ingested silver cleaner and took her own life. This course of the idea that police should be aggressive but they also need to be careful. In addition, the information is revealed to the media about who is suspected (or not suspected) and why needs to be meted out carefully. A balance needs to be struck between finding the truth and not endangering or threatening people that are not known to be guilty.

Another point of analysis with this death investigation that should be worth of analysis is how long it took to get a perpetratornearly three years. A time window that long, even in modern times, often leads to the chances of an investigation getting anything done very unlikely unless it is done by a known person and by a person that is known to the family like a relative or friend. Trails run very cold and this probably a lot of the reason that the case against Hauptmann had to rely so heavily on circumstantial and very dated eyewitness testimony because there was not much else to go on.

Lastly, this was yet another case throughout history that drove the United States Congress to act, which seems to be more and more common. The recent shootings in both Newtown, CT and Washington DC seem to bring up the common refrain of gun control just like up talk of healthcare in general or relating to legislation like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. Yet another example of this was the MCI WorldCom and Enron debacles leading to Sarbanes-Oxley. The problem with this reactionary thinking is that many and go TOO far but the making of kidnapping into a federal crime was the right move.


In the end, the Lindbergh case did more good than bad excluding the gruesome death that the poor child suffered. It enhanced the use of tactics like money tracking, handwriting analysis and so forth as a means to create a case that is weak from an evidentiary standpoint using more definitive methods like DNA testing and hair analysis but it can also bolster cases that are already fairly strong to begin with. It is especially true in cases where the death penalty is even a possibility to make sure as much as is possible that the right person is being tried and convicted because ending someone’s life over a lie or incorrect assumption is a tragedy anytime it happens.


Linder, D. (2005, January 1). An Account of the Trial of Richard Hauptmann. UMKC School of Law. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from

Lohr, D. (2012, July 12). Toni Medrano, Dubbed ‘Vodka Mom’ By Nancy Grace, Committed Suicide, Police Say. Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost..html (2013, September 20). Who Killed Chandra Levy? ( The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines – The Washington Post. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from