The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax
CHARLES LINDBERGH AND THE FBI INVESTIGATIONS
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COMPLETE LINDBERGH FBI FILES - 1400 pages (PDF)
FBI OFFICIAL STORY ON THE LINDBERGH KIDNAPPING
by Judge W Dennis Duggan, JFC
reprinted from The Albany County Bar Association Newsletter 01/04
FBI Political Surveillance & the Charles Lindbergh Investigation, 1939-1944
by Douglas M. Charles (PDF)
Was Lindbergh a Nazi? FBI vs. NJ Police
Notes from NJ Police Conference
Conference took place after the child was found dead on May 12, 1932
Fascism Part II: The Rise of American Fascism by Geoff Price - March 11, 2004
During Lindbergh kidnap case, FBI disdained Jersey's efforts
Sept 16, 1999
By J. Scott Orr and Mary Jo Patterson
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It was two days after the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh been found dead in the woods near Hopewell, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had just dispatched a top aide to New Jersey to help in the investigation.
In his first report back to his boss in Washington, Special Agent F.X. Fay expressed dismay at the investigative prowess of the New Jersey State Police. The investigation, he told Hoover, was a mess.
"I believe --in fact, I know -- that if we could step in right now and take over the entire investigation, we would save both time and money and accomplish much better results," Fay said.
The FBI agents weren't the only ones to criticize the State Police probe of the 1932 abduction and murder that has been called "the Crime of the Century." A New Jersey governor, Harold Hoffman, local investigators and countless citizens raised questions about the investigation that led to the conviction and execution of German immigrant Bruno Richard Hauptmann in 1936, according to thousands of FBI files on the case that were released at the National Archives yesterday.
Hauptmann was convicted of using a homemade ladder to break into the second-story nursery at the Lindbergh estate in Hopewell on March 1, 1932, abducting the baby, killing him and leaving the body in a shallow grave a few miles from the house. Hauptmann was arrested after spending some of the ransom money. He was tried in Flemington, found guilty and executed in Trenton State Prison.
Many of the 28,000 documents had been released by the FBI over the years, but yesterday was the first time the original, unedited papers were made public. For researchers, there were few surprises, but the files opened a window into the strained relations between Hoover and the New Jersey investigators.
In the boxed papers were hundreds of yellowed, tattered letters from citizens who volunteered their help, fingered associates or devised their own theories on the crime. Also offering their services: self-confessed rum runners, convicted gangsters and other shadowy underworld characters.
There are also dozens of aged black-and-white photos of Hauptmann, a carpenter, his modest home in the Bronx and the crime scene, along with newspaper clippings and copies of some of the $50,000 in gold certificates that paid the ransom.
Also among the mountains of papers was the FBI original draft of a news release announcing the arrest of Hauptmann on Sept. 19, 1934, saying that "after continued and vigorous questioning, Hauptmann admitted his participation in the kidnapping." That paragraph was crossed out in pencil, with a handwritten note "Please delete."
The files show that Hoover personally oversaw the FBI's involvement in the case and at times took steps to keep state investigators in the dark about what his G-men were up to.
Still, Hoover acknowledged that the case fell solely to the jurisdiction of the 11-year-old New Jersey State Police, headed by Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and there was little he could do to influence it.
Agent Fay arrived at Trenton's Hotel Hildebrecht on May 17, 1932. The next day, he wrote to Hoover that the investigation, headquartered in the garage at the Lindbergh estate, was in disarray. He described Schwarzkopf as "childish" and a press hound who was more interested in headlines that solving the crime.
"Schwarzkopf seems to be very much interested in the publicity which he is receiving. . . . He does not seem to give much thought to the answers which he makes and the information given to the press," Fay wrote.
"Unless he is very fortunate and actually falls across the solution to this case, I feel that his press reports will eventually act as a boomerang to him," the letter continued.
"I have not seen a man who has impressed me as being a real investigator engaged on this case so far. They have their own staff, members of the Jersey City Police and a couple of Newark detectives. They appear to be of the hit or miss variety and seem to be using police methods (strong arm) entirely,'" Fay wrote.
Hoover, on May 18, 1932, wrote Schwarzkopf to suggest that the State Police leader tone down the publicity, particularly when it came to the federal involvement in the case.
In a memo dated Sept. 18, 1934, the day before Hauptmann was arrested, Hoover shifted the assignments of several agents in an apparent effort to keep their identities a secret from New Jersey and New York City investigators in the case.
"Extreme care should be exercised in order that officials of the New Jersey State Police and New York City Police will not be advised of the identity of these agents or the fact that they are working on the Lindbergh case," Hoover wrote, adding that the new agents should keep their assignment secret even from other agents in the bureau's New York office.
In a separate memo that same day, Hoover ordered the New York office to "discontinue immediately the practice of furnishing to the New Jersey State Police copies of investigative reports."
Still, from the beginning, Hoover went to some lengths to keep the bureau from being seen as taking over control of the investigation from local authorities.
"I have impressed upon (a subordinate) the imperative desire of approaching a situation at Trenton in an extremely diplomatic manner and to at the same time see that no impression is gained that the federal authorities . . . intend to assume direction of the state investigation," Hoover wrote in a memo May 17, 1932.
The files also contained some evidence that the State Police felt no love for the FBI. One top aide to Schwarzkopf, Maj. Charles Schoeffel, alleged during a crime conference in North Jersey that Hoover had urged one of his agents to lie in testimony at Hauptmann's trial.
Hoover expressed outrage in a Jan. 20, 1936, letter to Schwarzkopf. In the letter, Hoover denied instructing Special Agent T.H. Sisk to lie in his testimony at Hauptmann's trial.
"I, of course, am not even remotely interested in any insinuations or statements made by Major Schoeffel concerning my tenure in office, but I naturally resent the serious allegations that I in any manner induced a special agent of this bureau to commit perjury," Hoover wrote.
In an earlier memo to an FBI underling, dated Dec. 23, 1934, Hoover said Schwarzkopf informed him that Hauptmann's lawyer, Edward J. Reilly, intended to subpoena Hoover to testify in the case.
"Reilly wants me to testify that the division had to come to the aid of the State Police in order to save the case, and that the case was so badly bungled that none of the evidence is authentic," Hoover wrote.
Governor Hoffman, whose political career was ruined by his attacks on the state's handling of the case, went to great lengths to convince Hoover of the need for continued investigation even after Hauptmann was arrested.
During a secret midnight meeting in Hoover's suite at the Hotel New Yorker on Jan. 18, 1936, Hoffman said he believed Hauptmann did not act alone. The Republican governor followed up the meeting with a letter seeking continued FBI action.
"There is evidence, abundant evidence that other persons participated in the crime, and there is absolutely no reason why our law enforcement agencies should regard this case as closed," he wrote.
Long after Hauptmann's execution, the case obsessed Americans. They showered the FBI with letters, offering fresh conspiracy theories, accused people they considered suspicious, and described supposed sightings of the baby.
Others thought they had stumbled onto the ransom money and submitted serial numbers of bills.
In 1951, one man called Hoover directly to report that Princeton professor Albert Einstein had framed Hauptmann.
Ten or so years later, a postman in Kingston, Jamaica, contacted the bureau to report that two local men he had been spying on for 12 years were surely involved in the crime.
No matter how ludicrous their claims appeared, the informants were dead serious.
"This may just be wasting your time; but I have been very suspicious for a few years here," a Brooklyn woman wrote anonymously in 1941. "This man's name is Fred or Dutch Schultz. He has two boys both seem about the same age . . . and (one) is the image of the Lindbergh baby blue eyes blond curly hair."
A Mrs. Starks from Kentucky contacted the bureau to put in her two cents: "You may think it foolish for me to burst out like this after so long a time but I tell you I have never believed the Lindenburg baby is dead," she began.
She went on to relate that, at the time of the kidnapping, she noticed a couple with a traveling carnival who had a baby that looked just like the missing child. She told Hoover that she wrote Lindbergh himself to tell him this, but that he never answered.
"I don't trust Lindenburg any further than I do Hitler," she wrote. "I do think he should be watched closely."
In 1945 a former New York state prison inmate informed the FBI that he had met a fellow in prison who claimed to have participated in the kidnapping. According to his former prison pal, the baby was immediately smothered, and the mastermind was a man named Lombardi from Boston.
During World War II, a Staten Island-based group called "The Lindbergh Witnesses" circulated a pamphlet blaming the Japanese.
And in 1945, E.D. Williams of West Hempstead, N.Y., wrote Hoover that the FBI should re-examine the case in light of the war's end. "Pipe dream or not, it has always been my idea that the kidnapping was organized and directed by the Nazi Party from Germany."
The FBI held many of the letter-writers in very low esteem, branding them "nuts" or "wacky." One agent referred to a former Marine volunteering information as "psychopathic."
Passage of time did not bring down the fever of those obsessed with the crime.
In 1948, the FBI director received a teletype from an agent who had just been contacted by the chief of the South Plainfield Police Department. Apparently a couple who lived in the Middlesex County borough had their dining room table repaired and found "hidden German writing in pencil" containing directions to some of the ransom money.
Some Americans, even decades after the crime, volunteered confessions.
In 1951 a TV show producer sent the FBI a letter from Maybelle Stevens of Aurora, Ill. A Lindbergh idol, she claimed to have murdered the baby out of jealousy.
"I hit him in the head with a hammer," Stevens confessed, "a little too hard. I buried him in the woods. Even though he was crippled, he was cute . . . Hauptmann is innocent."
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