The quiet mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey was troubled in March 1, 1932 when Charles Lindbergh, Jr., 20-month-old son of aviation hero Charles and wife Anne went missing. The baby’s absence was discovered by the child’s nurse Betty Gow at around 10:00pm. A ransom note was found on the window sill of the nursery demanding $50,000.
Investigation showed that the kidnapper used a ladder to climb up to the second floor window. He left a muddy footprints in the room. There were no blood stains in or about the nursery and no fingerprints. Household and estate employees were questioned and investigated. Lindbergh made widespread appeals for the kidnappers to start negotiations. The Lindberghs were swamped with false clues and assistance. Several ransom notes were received by the family yet the baby was not found. For few days investigators found nothing.
Then, a letter showed up demanding $70,000. The negotiators beg to reduce the price to $50,000. Instructions were given by the kidnappers for dropping off the money. When the money was delivered, the Lindberghs were told that the baby was on a boat called Nellie near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. However, there was no sign of either the boat or the child.
On May 12, 1932, the body of the kidnapped baby was accidentally found, partly buried, and badly decomposed, about four and a half miles southeast of the Lindbergh home, 45 feet from the highway, near Mount Rose, New Jersey, in Mercer County. The boy had crushed head, a hole in the skull and some of the body parts missing. He died on the night of kidnapping. The heartbroken Lindberghs ended up donating the mansion to charity and moved away.
Two years after in September, a marked bill from the ransom turned up in a gas station. The station attendant noted the license plate because of the suspicious driver. Police tracked down German immigrant and carpenter, Bruno Hauptmann.
Hauptmann denied involvement in the kidnapping but the evidences – the marked money and handwriting of the ransom notes – pointed out to him. He was indicted for charges of extortion and murder. The trial of Hauptmann began on January 3, 1935, at Flemington, New Jersey, and lasted five weeks. On February 13, 1935, the jury returned a verdict. Hauptmann was guilty of murder in the first degree. The sentence: death.