Little-Known Martha’s Vineyard Connection to the Lindbergh Kidnapping
Callers and I were talking about the recent Lawrence case of two people accused of stealing a car with a toddler in the back that are now facing kidnapping charges, among other offenses.
Coincidentally, on March 1, 1932, the crime that captured the attention of the entire nation, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, had a local connection.
Part of this true tragedy takes place just miles off our coast, on the island of Martha's Vineyard.
Charles Lindbergh became an international celebrity when he flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.
Years later, he and his wife Ann discovered a ransom note demanding $50,000 in the room of their 20-month-old son, Charles Jr. The kidnapper(s) used a ladder to climb to the second floor window, leaving muddy footprints inside.
Offers of assistance, along with plenty of false clues, poured in. Even notorious criminal Al Capone asked if he could help from his prison cell.
A new letter showed up, only this time demanding $70,000. The kidnappers gave instructions for dropping of the money. After it was delivered, the Lindberghs were told their baby was on a boat named "Nelly" off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. After a laborious search, there was no sign of either the boat or their baby boy.
It wouldn't be until September 1934 that a marked bill from the ransom turned up in at a Manhattan gas station. The attendant who looked at and accepted the bill wrote down the license plate number because he was suspicious of the driver.
It was tracked back to a Bruno Hauptmann. When his home was searched, police found the remaining ransom money. Public pressure and the evidence were enough to convict him. He was electrocuted in 1936.
The baby was found less than a mile or so from their home by a truck driver who stumbled upon the missing boy's deceased body. It was determined he had been killed the same night as the kidnapping from a severe blow to the head.
The Lindbergh kidnapping case led the U.S. Congress to pass the Federal Kidnapping Act, called the Lindbergh Law. This legislation made kidnapping a federal offense and allowed federal investigators the authority to pursue kidnappers across state jurisdictions.