The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax
John F. Condon a.k.a. "Jafsie"
New! "EGOIST EXTRAODINARY" (PDF)
A 24-page report tracking the multiple disparities of Condon's tales By Leon Hoage
"Jafsie Tells All" 1936 - Available on CD ROM
Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax Forum
Ronelle Delmont's Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax You Tube Channel
Michael Melsky's Lindbergh Kidnapping Discussion Board
Condon's Handwriting and UNCAS
THE OURSLER REPORT - LIBERTY JUNE 18 1936 (PDF)
The Werner Report (PDF)
Jafsie Interview on Film at Archive Crazy like a fox?
The Sisk Report on Jafsie Oct 27, 1934 (PDF)
Stockburger Report - Jafsie meets Hauptmann in Jail (PDF)
When news hit the nation that Charles Lindbergh's son was missing, people were horrified. How could anyone do such a thing to such an extraordinary American hero? Dr. John F. Condon, a 72-year-old retired school principal decided "to get into the act" by performing his own "heroic act" of confronting the kidnappers on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh.
As a continual contributor to the letters section of the Bronx Home News he advertised himself as an intermediary for the Lindbergh family, offering $1,000.00 of his own "life savings" as an added reward for the return of the Eaglet.
As a result of that single letter he managed to make himself the most publicized person in the entire case and became the world wide target of much hate and controversy throughout this "story of the century."
He is, still today, one of the most suspicious characters in the entire case.
Even Richard Hauptmann believed John "Jafsie" Condon held "the key to my cell."
THE BRONX HOME NEWS
JAFSIE'S LETTER TO THE BRONX HOME NEWS
thanks to Archivist Mark Falzini for this contribution
2974 Decatur Ave. Bronx, N.Y.C., March 7/32
Editor of Home News:
I have followed your columns since the pioneer days and I now ask you to go even beyond the realm of "journalism," into speculative philosophy for the benefit of Colonel Charles A. Lindberg's [sic] child. I have written stories the contents of which have been drawn from first-handed sources, yet I have never betrayed a confidence. Even now one of those stories is being considered in a western town with a view to publication.
With a view to assisting the brave Colonel, and his devoted wife Mrs. Lindberg [sic] to bring back to her bosom the tender offspring, with busting arms around her neck, with his little fingers causing that joy, which offers no parallel in the world and which only a mother can experience, I make an offer to the kidnapers, with instruction as to how to proceed to restore the beautiful baby to its mother's arms. I offer $1000.-- for anyone, who can prove to my satisfaction, in the history of the world where a catholic priest has ever betrayed the secrets of the Confessional. It is upon this universal that I wish to help Colonel Lindberg [sic] as follows.
To the Kidnapper. In addition to the $50,000 offered by the Colonel, I offer $1000, which I have saved from my salary, if the one who handed the Colonel's son out of the window to the man on the ladder, will go to a "Catholic priest" and confess his or her transgression, giving the child unharmed to any priest whom the kidnapper will name. I stand ready in person at my own expense to go anywhere, alone on land or water to give the kidnapper the extra money, and promise never to utter his or her name to anyone.
I appeal for the mother of the child, for the sake of Him, who suffered at Mount Calvary, before his mother, who suffered anguish and whose heart was pierced with sorrow. Instead of threats and thoughts of punishment for the erring one, I appeal to the inner soul of the man or woman. For the sake of his own mother, that he may offer restitution for his crime, I offer all that I could scrape together $1000, of my own money, so that a loving mother may again have her darling child, so that people will know that the greatest criminal in the world has a bright spot in his heart, and that Colonel Charles A. Lindberg [sic] may know that the American people, of whom, I claim to be one, are grateful for the honor that he bestowed upon the United States by his pluck and daring.
Let the kidnapper, who may be here among us know that I write of my own free will, that no testimony of mine or coming from me will be used against him and that this is an appeal for the sake of humanity, while I gave all that I can, to him, $1000, just for being manly by giving back the child to his mother.
John F. Condon
Dr. Condon, surprisingly, received an answer through the mail:
(click here to see a photo of the note)
Dear Sir: If you are willing to act as go-between in Lindbergh cace please follow stricly instruction. Handel incloced letter personaly to Mr. Lindbergh. It will explain everything. Don't tell anyone about it. As soon we found out the Press or Police is notifyed everythign are cansell and it will be a further delay.
Affter you gett the mony from Mr Lindbergh put these 3 words in the New York American
MONEY IS REDY
Affter notise we will give you further instruction. Don't be affrait we are not out fore your 1000$ keep it. Only act strickly. Be at home every night between 6-12 by this time you will hear from us.
Also inside the envelope was another envelope. On that envelope, another message was written:
Dear Sir: Please handel incloced letter to Colonel Lindbergh. It is in Mr. Lindbergh interest not to notify the Police.
Condon contacted Lindbergh and drove out to Hopewell with his boxing friend, Al Reich - pictured here in his younger years. Condon had once been a boxer.
The Lone Eagle agreed to have Dr. Condon act as intermediary after he was shown the letters and saw the familiar signature at the bottom- the two interlocked circles. Dr. Condon used the newspapers to correspond with the "kidnappers" with the codename "Jafsie" derived from his initials JFC.
MONEY IS READY
On March 11, Dr. Condon followed the next set of orders. He had the New York American print "Money is ready. Jafsie." This "conversation" using newspapers continued throughout the month and which kept Dr. Condon in constant contact with the ransom note writers. Days after he printed the sentence in the newspaper a meeting was arranged at a cemetery and this would be the location of his first contact with a man named "John".
This meeting was not successful. Without the money, no child could be handed over, John said. Another meeting was scheduled after many more notes. This meeting was supposed to bring the return of the Lindbergh baby. Dr. Condon had the ransom money, $75,000, ready to exchange for the child. the baby was not present at the ransom exchange. Another note was given to Dr. Condon. John said that the note would reveal the location of the child.
After the note was read and a search was held at the location spoke of in the letter, it was quite clear that Dr. Condon was deceived. The baby was still missing, as was $50,000 in ransom money which Dr. Condon gave to John - after curiously bargaining the extortionist down from 70,000.00 originally demanded in the ransom notes. The question of money was none of Condon's business and why he took it upon himself to intervene with "John" is not quite clear. Whether it was 50,000. or 70,000. it all seemed like a pittance anyway, compared to what real "kidnappers" might have asked for the world's most famous baby! Such a small ransom demand is extremely suspicious for the same reasons that it is suspicious today in the famous Jon Benet Ramsey case.
Although the police doubted that Dr. Condon could help any further, he vowed to help put the baby back in the arms of its mother. He prepared transcripts of the conversations he had with John during the two meetings. Later, in March of 1934, he turned the transcripts into phonograph records imitating the voice of "John" so that it would be easier to recognize the voice in the future.
Before Hauptmann's arrest, the police suspected Dr. Condon of having been involved with the baby's disappearance. After Hauptmann's arrest, however, Dr. Condon was asked to help with the Lindbergh case by identifying Hauptmann as "Cemetery John." At first, Dr. Condon refused to identify Hauptmann as "John." It took him some time before he agreed to do what the police wanted of him. In fact, Condon told the police that he could not be sure and since a man's life depended on his identification he wanted to be more positive. Finally, and there is little doubt of this, police pressure convinced Condon that Hauptmann was the right man.
Condon never made a request for Reward Money after Hauptmann's execution as so many other witnesses did.
Sample of Condon's Handwriting
(letter written to Herbert Lehman on Sept 30, 1936 during his campaign for Gov of New York)
Condon was in the real estate business on City Island with his close friend Al Reich.
Jennie Barton, the 23 year-old daughter of City Island boat builder George L Barton, was their secretary.
Thanks to the Lehman Archive for this sample and thanks to Sue Campbell for discovering it.
The Uncas Club?
Uncas is a character in
James Fennimore Cooper's
"Last of the Mohicans"
richard sloan to
LKH Public Forum
UNCAS stands for...
Sat May 10 2003
Yes, Uncas is the Indian's name in the Cooper novel. An oldtimer on City Island who knew Condon a little when he was a young teen, Skippy Larson, told me in person about 6 years ago that the name of Condon's/Reich's real estate office/store,UNCAS, stood for "U-Need-Condon's Ability-for-Sales."
Was Jafsie Faking? Ronelle Delmont
During a visit with Mark Falzini at the Trenton Archive
on April 25, 2003 he showed me a very strange video of Jafsie being interviewd
in 1936 somewhere down in Florida, I believe. (Jafsie is sitting in one of those
1930s striped canvas beach chairs.)
Jafsie is rattling on and on about "Walter Weasel," and having much fun with the reporters pretending to have accidentally mispronounced Walter Winchel's name. It seems that Walter Winchel had been voicing his disgust with Jafsie in his columns and Condon was getting even in this interview.
Jafsie's demeanor, during the minute or so when he is under the impression that the reporter has stopped rolling the film, is shocking. Jafsie's voice and facial expressions change into a completely different person.
He is, in those few minutes (or, maybe seconds) a very serious and calm individual. The oddball Jafsie has literally disappeared before your very eyes and a more sinister person, speaking in a normal tone, without histrionic flourishes, appears momentarily.
As soon as he thinks the camera has begun to roll again he returns to his outlandish idiotic personality.
Not only is the transition as smooth as a light switch but there is a chilling effect on the observer because the 2 personalities do not match.
Was Jafsie really just "crazy like a fox?"
Bronx Home News Story
Sunday, April 10, 1932.
submitted by Philip Migliore
Cape Cod ? City Island ?
While the United Press in its earlier stories last evening stated without qualification that the ransom was paid over to the kidnapers representative at Cape Cod,
some New York reports assert today that the transaction took place "in a boathouse at City Island a week ago last night."
At least one of the newspapers furnished the address of a City Island garage in which Col. Lindbergh's automobile was said to be parked during the reported conference and "pay-off" in the boathouse.
But people known to be in the Colonel's confidence stated flatly last night that neither he nor any accredited representative of his was anywhere near City Island last Saturday night.
No specific denial of the payment of the ransom money was made, however.
The spokesmen merely declined to comment in any way upon the widely-published reports. The matter remained in doubt until the Colonel's own statement was issued at 10 PM.
The "Jafsie" advertisements referred to in the news stories have been appearing regularly in The Home News for several weeks, the latest of them today and from time to time in one or more Manhattan newspapers.
Although their exact source never has been made known, it seems to have been accepted generally that they are directed to the kidnapers.
On April 01 "Jafsie" advertised: "I accept. Money is ready."
On April 02, 03 and 04(last Saturday). Sunday and Monday)
this wording was used: "Yes. Everything O.K."
Beginning on Wednesday and appearing daily since then was "What is wrong? Have you crossed me? Please, better
Visits Montreal in Search of Kidnapers
submitted by Philip Migliore
a vintage newspaper
Montreal,- Continuing his unceasing search for the abductors of the Lindbergh baby Dr. J F Condon known as the "Jafsie" of the case visited Montreal this week in his routine inspection of Rougues Galleries in many cities. He left night.
Dr. Condon us devoting much of his time to quiet investigation of the Lindbergh mystery and he has said that he intends to continue his efforts indefinitely
Dr Condon was here to examine the Rogues Gallery at the
Montreal detective office. He hoped to find pictures of the men who trapped im into handing ove the sum of $50,000 ransom money for the Lindbergh Child.
People have suspected me of taking the money for myself Dr. Condon told local police. The rumor has been current and I have set out to prove my innocence. In order to ddo this I intend to visit the Rogues Gallery of each city in America, if necessary to see if I can find the faces of the men with whom I dealt and to bring them to justice before I die.
Montreal is the 27th city I have visited on this mission and so far I have been unsuccessful.
Jafsie Tells Bronx Women Their Babies Are Safe
Source: NY Daily News, page 4. January 14, 1935
by Archivist, Mark Falzini)
From the Trenton, NJ hotel where he is watching developments in the Hauptmann trial, the one and only Jafsie broadcast this message to fellow Bronxites through a Bronx newspaper:
To the Men, Women and Children of the Bronx:
Your moral support, faith and absolute confidence in me, in the borough of my birth, were beacon lights for me, whether I was tramping the snow-covered hills of Canada or the Everglades of Florida; whether I was negotiating in the mansion of the millionaire or conversing with the underworld in the dives or dens of iniquity.
Without any suggestion from anyone, and without remuneration from any source whatever, I determined to rid our "Borough Beautiful" from the scourge of gangsterdom, which seemed to grasp sections of our great United States in its vice-like grip.
Tell the mothers of the Bronx that they may leave their babies sleeping in their cribs, while they are busy with their household duties, and that my efforts for the return of the little golden-haired Lindbergh baby were directed for their protection and the safety of every child in the world.
John F. Condon
During the appeal stages for Hauptmann's case, with the help of Governor Harold Hoffman, Dr. Condon wrote a letter to the The New York Times. He wrote about Lindbergh with much praise, brutalized Hauptmann, and downplayed Gov. Hoffman's political career. The governor had openly called for a retrial since he observed the tainted evidence at first hand and actually believed in the innocence of Hauptmann. Congress was calling for impeachment proceedings against the Republican governor and Charles Lindbergh gave his wife 24 hour notice to be packed and ready to move secretly out of the country THE DAY AFTER Hoffman's intentions were made public.
During all wars there is a fair exchange of prisoners, and sometimes one country will reap the reward of gain, while the other loses by the negotiations.
During times of peace there are exchanges of men whether directly, or indirectly, even to the disadvantage of our own country, which really means a profit for some foreign country.
The latest exchange between the United States and a foreign power seems to be the loss of our great "National Hero," Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, in exchange for whom we retain and detain Bruno Richard Hauptmann, with whom I exchanged $50,000 and received in return a promissory note to return our beloved "Eaglet," Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
I beheld the anguish of Mrs. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in the throes of blessed motherhood, and promised to return her beloved baby to her arms, or give my life in the attempt.
The Colonel and Mrs. Lindbergh's invitation and for three years and ten months, night and day, near and far, I worked assiduously to restore the baby, or run down the cowardly knave who climbed a ladder, nailed together in three sections, to carry out his nefarious scheme.
I saw with deep satisfaction $49,680 of the $50,000 which I gave in the hand and on the arm of the carpenter returned to the G-men under that great chief J. Edgar Hoover, and the New York Police Department, under the friend of my boyhood, Col. John J. O'Ryan, as Commissioner in New York City, from the Bronx, the most beautiful "Borough" in the world.
Yes, but the ashes of the darling baby, victim of a fiend urged by greed of gain, and seeking pleasure, are mute witness of the Crime, while within every American's breast there is a beating of the heart, tolling the death-kneel of every gangster, which the Stars and Stripes fly from every staff and masthead...
In conclusion, will the Courts as a tribunal, only to be swept out of power by an individual for sake of political aggrandizement, or will the representative of the people stand firm and defy gangsterdom, or individual marauders while we trade National Heroes like Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and his family for the discarded miscreants of other countries who lie, cheat, kidnap and murder, depending upon the loot and spoils to serve as a cache to free them from the toils and meshes of the law?
Col. Lindbergh told me that he would remain a citizen of the United States. He will return in triumph to us and to the U.S.. May God speed that return. JAFSIE
Jafsie on the LKH Public Forum
Condon and the "mafia symbol"
Sun Aug 26 14:25:00 2001
"Robert Thayer said that when Condon called Lindbergh, Condon told him that his letter bore the symbol of the Mafia.
In his book, Jafsie tells all, Condon said he first saw the symbol when Lindbergh told him to open the sealed letter. In his testimony, Condon said he told Lindbergh he had a letter with the symbol on it.
He later testified that he showed the symbol to Max Rosenhain before he made the call to Hopewell. Then, still under oath, he said the letter was still sealed when he brought it to Hopewell. Under redirect by Wilentz, he said the letter received by him bore no symbol and that he didn't see the symbol until he'd been told by the voice at Hopewell to open the letter addressed to Lindbergh and that the letter had been opened when he gave it to Lindbergh.
Should we believe anything Condon said?" - Carol
Saturday, 24-Apr-1999 23:11:45
According to testimony from Jafsie himself the
writer of the later ransom notes, who became the recipient of the blood money
wrote a very poor imitation of the symbol on the original ransom note. Thus, he
refuted the charge of the State of New Jersey that there was only one man
concerned with the whole affair--that the man who killed was the man who wrote
all the notes and received the money.
Interesting don't you think. wouldn't this prove the idea of the involvement of a gang and not a long kidnapper, killer. Why were these discrepancies then overlooked by the Jury? - Diane
FBI Summary Report and JAFSIE
Clubbeaux to the LKH Public Forum
Condon, The Great Bamboozler
Thu Feb 21 2002
Verdict Defenders rarely like to admit, even to themselves, how much of what they believe rests on the good Dr. John F. Condon. Certainly his identification of Hauptmann as Cemetery John is one of the nails in Hauptmann’s coffin. Yet they close their eyes to the total tonnage of lies and prevarications he emitted while parsing Hauptmann’s testimony for inconsistencies.
Condon first stated he was in Max Rosenhain’s restaurant on the night of March 7, 1932 when he lectured a group of foreign ruffians about what a great country America is despite the Lindbergh kidnapping. Later he said he was in Bickford’s. Such self-contradiction, of which there were dozens of examples, is minor compared to what was to follow.
The FBI reported that “Condon is an extremely difficult person to interview, expecially [sic] when the topic of conversation relates to this case. He gives the impression, presently [February 1934] at least of being somewhat of an eccentric individual and seems careful to avoid a discussion relating to what he terms the ‘delicate’ angle of this case. A reading of his statement made in the Bronx County District Attorney’s office on May 24, 1932, and of his testimony before the Bronx County Grand Jury on May 20, 1932, readily indicates that his explanations of his activities in the course of the ransom negotiations are rather incoherent.”
It notes his embarrassingly conflicting accounts of what happened when with whom, a random example of which would be his meeting with the Italian woman at Tuckahoe. He once stated that he went there to meet her, conversed with her, and she told him that he’d be receiving another message soon. In another account he said he didn’t meet anyone at the station and had gone there merely to see a – unnamed -- relative.
The FBI stated that as a matter of fact Condon’s version of events was too “incoherent” to be trusted, and that to assemble a simple chronology the Bureau had to corroborate Condon’s statements as far as possible with other sources. The FBI’s Summary Report notes that as of February 1934 “Dr. Condon has tentatively identified the photographs of at least six men as a likeness of the man to whom he paid the ransom money.”
As a matter of fact, on May 18, 1932, a conference was held in Schwarzkopf's office in Trenton, New Jersey, attended by Messrs. Nathan, Connelly and Fay from the Department of Justice, Messrs. Wilson and Madden of the Treasury Department; Mr. Lanigan, Assistant Attorney General of the State of New Jersey; Prosecutor Marshall of Mercer County; Prosecutor Hauck of Hunterdon County; Inspector Walsh of the Jersey City Police Department; and Major Schoeffel and Lieutenant Keaton of the New Jersey State Police.
At that meeting Nathan asks Walsh “Are you convinced that Condon is on the level?” Walsh answers “No.” A little while later Schwarzkopf says that Condon received “the sleeping suit, a Dr. Denton #2 sleeping suit, which was the same kind that the baby had worn the same night the baby had been taken away, however, this suit had one button off and it had apparently been washed and was not accepted as conclusive, it was accepted as being the same kind of a suit but as being the suit, there was nothing to positively identify it.” Leaving aside that this fact makes a lot of testimony manufactured by Wilentz and Lindbergh under oath at the trial a little more, um, interesting, it does raise the question of just where did Condon acquire this suit.
Interesting that he recounts seeing John’s face for but an instant, yet tells police he could easily identify him again, but when he accompanies Lindbergh to pay the ransom he has a conversation with a man and girl standing near the cemetery, and later tells police he couldn’t describe the first thing about them. Quite a selective memory.
“Condon tried to catch some German accent from ‘John’ but was unable;” the FBI report says, and bear in mind that he’s held about two hours of freewheeling conversation with John by this point, but “in conversing with ‘John’ further he was satisfied that he was the so-called ‘Scandinavian,’ with whom he had previously spoken in the Woodlawn Cemetery.”
Condon also describes John as weighing about thirty pounds less than Hauptmann. This is not an “error” a man who has spent many years classifying boxers makes.
Condon told the FBI that he took some wood to a friend’s shop to have him make the box specified in the ransom notes to hold the money, but couldn’t remember the friend’s name. Later he pointed out a shop and said he’d paid $3.25 to have the box made there, when the FBI interviewed the owner of the shop he said no, he never made a box for Condon. The FBI called Condon’s account “apparently untruthful,” especially since he later told police that the box in question was a “family heirloom.” On such testimony the intrepid Lt. Finn builds his case against Hauptmann “beyond any miscalculation or doubt.”
Interestingly, Breckinridge reported personally making a cast of one of John’s footprints the night of the ransom payment. The FBI notes that the cast was in the possession of the NJSP. Never turned up at the trial. Funny, that. Would’ve been a real strong piece of evidence, had it matched Hauptmann’s shoe.
And consider the following chronology, which I believe Siglinde originally contributed:
March 6th, 1932: A woman giving her name as “Mary Cirrito” comes to the Princeton Junction Hotel with her common-law husband, Peter Berritella. Berritella’s spiritualist church on E. 127th Street in Harlem is noted for being a) directly across the street from Fisch’s rooming house, and b) attended by a large number of Italians and blacks – as well as Violet Sharpe and Oliver Whateley. Karl Henkel identifies Fisch as a “member” of the church. The church is half a block from the Warner-Quinlan gas station.
Cirrito tells Schwarzkopf and Breckinridge [whom she called “Mr. Breckinbridge”] that they would soon get a note from the “kidnappers” in which the name “Jafsie” appears. She says the baby’s body will be found on the Heights above Hopewell.
March 8th, 1932: Condon’s famous letter appears in the Bronx Home News.
March 10th, 1932: A letter addressed to “Mr. Breckinbridge” arrives at Breckinridge’s office at 25 Broadway. The letter has the identifying symbol.
March 11th, 1932: Condon suggests his using the name “Jafsie” as a code.
In case anyone else is inclined to believe anything Condon says, in a statement given to the New Jersey State Police Thayer recalls taking the phone call from Condon at the Lindbergh house “about 12 o’clock on the night of March 10th,” and asking him how the letter in his possession was signed. “With the sign of the Mafia,” he replied. Of course there was no signature on the letter Condon had opened, and he had not opened the one addressed to Lindbergh. Quite a clairvoyant himself, I’d say.
One truly wishes Thayer had been called as a witness in the trial, but of course one can understand why the State had no intention of doing so.
I believe a while ago someone, maybe Michael, was wondering about the Mafia connections to the case. The vast majority, I think, can be traced back to statements by Condon that were never corroborated – “statti citto,” the Italian woman at Tuckahoe, his “Mafia” statement to Thayer, his stated opinion that Italians frequently held meetings in graveyards, etc. It seems that the early fix was to pin the child’s disappearance on an Italian, most probably Mafia, so they instructed Condon to drop as many Italian/Mafia “clues” as he could, then when cops couldn’t make that stick they started casting about for some other patsy.
It does seem as if the cops really had something on ol’ Jafsie, something to keep him from getting out of line. The police’s deep distrust of Condon comes through loud and clear in the Trenton parley, and later Walsh says that he’s “heard” that Condon had been arrested two or three times on complaints of corrupting the morals of minors, and another time on a sex case or carnal abuse case. Police suspicion of Condon is found at all levels and almost continually throughout the case, taking a brief holiday only at the trial. And when Hoffman announces that he’s reopening the case Condon has a ticket to Panama shoved in his hand and is pushed out the door.
I have a good friend who, upon learning of Condon’s sordid past, remarked that if we accept the fact that Jafsie did have a dirty background, we can safely assume that he was putty in the police's and prosecution's hands once they threatened him with exposing his
past. He became a perfect blackmail target and had no choice but to identify
Hauptmann as Cemetery John.
There’s certainly a lot to this idea, and the gist of it is probably correct. At the same time I’d hate to paint the lying fool as a sympathetic figure. It’s illustrative that the cops knew he wasn’t being honest, but rather than trying to find out the truth they simply used him as a tool to help frame Hauptmann.
I haven’t researched this out, but I’m wondering if anyone else has noticed that Condon has most of his trouble with the FBI. I’m guessing that the local cops soon knew they had Condon under their thumb with his past actions or whatever they were going to blackmail him with, and the federal boys didn’t know this. So the cops and Condon had an understanding, one the FBI wasn’t in on. Just guessing here.
The cops didn’t particularly care about the truth – or the ransom money – as long as they could convict some poor sap and close the case. They saw Condon probably as some petty swindler who’d gotten in over his head, along with the Berritellas, et al, but rather than bust him down figured to use him to their advantage, so they kept stringing him along, first to build up a “case” against a future Italian/Mafia detainee, then against Hauptmann.
Michael Melsky to the LKH Public Forum
Fri Mar 8 2002
N.Y. FBI File 62-3057 p176:
Al Reich was then of the opinion that the medium sized Italian man who passed Condon while he was walking on Jerome Avenue in the direction of East 233rd Street prior to his meeting "John" was one of the confederates of the kidnappers and was employed for the purpose of observing Condon remove the note from under the stone on the porch of the frankfurter stand and that when Condon did so, this medium sized Italian gave to "John" the signal verifying Dr. Condon's identity.
....an incident occurred at the home of Dr. Condon which might have some bearing on this case. Colonel Henry Breckinridge and Dr. Condon were at the latter's home awaiting further word from the kidnapers, when a young Italian about 25 years of age, height 5'7", dark complexion, came to the house and stated he was selling needles. Both Dr. Condon and Colonel Breckinridge went to the door and Dr. Condon purchased some of the needles. The Italian then departed and as far as Colonel Breckinridge could see, he walked off the block entirely without making any effort to sell needles at neighboring houses.
About an hour after the above incident, another Italian individual, of a similar description to the first, called at Dr. Condon's house with a scissors grinding apparatus. (omit) ...Dr. Condon gave him a few implements to sharpen, and upon completion of the job, the Doctor handed him a quarter....(omit) Thereafter the scissors grinder took his departure and as in the case of the first Italian, walked off the block without making an effort to solicit business elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Colonel Breckinridge expressed an opinion that either the needle vendor or the scissors grinder or both were emissaries of the kidnapers employed for the purpose of visiting Dr. Condon's house to determine whether there was a "plant" in the house and to determine accurately just how well the police were guarding the house. It appears possible that either one or both of these persons may be identical with one or the other of the "lookouts" observed at Woodlawn and St. Raymond Cemeteries.....
During the course of that day, the eleventh ransom note of this case was delivered to Dr. Condon at his home on Decatur Avenue, allegedly by a taxicab driver. At the time of the delivery of this note Colonel Breckinridge was in a back room of Dr. Condon's house, and Colonel Lindbergh was also in the house, but neither saw the person who delivered the note.
It is Condon's statement that the communication received by him from an unidentified taxicab driver on April 2, 1932, was delivered to his home shortly after 8: o'clock on that evening although the surrounding circumstances relative to the delivery of this particular note are still in dispute.
Colonel Lindbergh and Condon arrived at Bergen's Flower Shop on the night of April 2, 1932 at exactly five minutes after 9: o'clock....
While Colonel Lindbergh was parked in Al Reich's car near Bergen's Flower Shop on that night and while Dr. Condon was walking down East Tremont Avenue near Whittemore Avenue close to St. Raymond's cemetery, Colonel Lindbergh from the car observed a man with a handkerchief held to his face. This man blew his nose in a loud manner and then dropped the handkerchief. (omit) It is the opinion of both Colonel Lindbergh and Colonel Breckinridge that this person who discarded the handkerchief it was the signal to "John" or any of the other kidnapers concerning Dr. Condon's identity.
....Condon walked down to the corner of East Tremont Avenue to the Wittemore Avenue entrance of St. Raymond's Cemetery, where he saw a man and a little girl on the corner and from them he inquired as whether they knew where Whittemore Avenue was.
Officer James A. Avon, Bronx Police Department - Report 7-19-32:
Confidential Investigation Relative to the Activities of Dr. John F. Condon
At 12-55 P.M. April 14th, 1932 we interviewed Bernard Uebel of 116 Swinton Avenue, special officer in St. Raymond's Cemetery badge 1097. He stated that on April 1st, 1932, about 1-30 P.M. he saw a dark complexioned man with three or four others get out of a maroon sedan on Whittemore Avenue and St. Raymond's Cemetery (where ransom money is alleged to have been passed as pictured and mentioned in the newspapers). He stated that said men walked around as if they were looking for someone, they stayed about three or four hours and then drove away...(omit) Description of dark complexioned man:- Apparently an Italian....
Uebel further stated that on April 2nd, at about 2-30 P.M. while operating a cement mixer, he observed Dr. Condon park his auto at section 5 on Whittemore Avenue (same location as others parked on previous day) with a man driving him, car was faced east. Both alighted from car and Dr. Condon walked over to a Ford touring car, painted Green, no license obtainable, with side curtains drawn, containing several men, said car having driven up after Dr. Condon's and they parked behind his auto on Whittemore Avenue, facing south. Dr. Condon talked to them a few minutes and rejoined his friend, they both walked south on Whittemore Avenue, in the meantime the gree [sic] touring car with men, turned about and drove away. When Dr. Condon and friend reached section 8, Dr. Condon left him, walked across Balcom Avenue into marshes, then walked in an easterly direction in marshes alongside of ditch for about four city blocks, then came out at a red barn in the cemetery, rejoined his friend in section 8, walked back to his parked car taking a course on the inside of the hedge, parallel to Whittemore Avenue. His friend got into the automobile but Dr. Condon walked to Ford touring car which had again parked in same place. Dr. Condon took a large white envelope out of his pocket and handed it to an occupant of said automobile. He then walked back to his car and got in it with his friend, backed up and drove north on Wittemore Avenue toward E. Tremont Avenue and Ford, T.C. followed. Uebel stated that he was on a mixer about three hundred yards from parked automobile and he observed everything that took place as he had field glasses with him. He also stated that he spoke to Dr. Condon as he passed, as he knew him, Uebel could not describe Condon's friend or any occupant of the Ford, .....(omit)
Uebel stated that at about 7-45 A.M. Monday April 11th, 1932 he saw the maroon automobile again, no license number obtainable, drive up and park on Whittemore Avenue, at the same location, with same dark complexioned man sitting alongside the driver. He observed the dark complexioned man walk to a box-wood bush in the rear of 3254 E. Tremont Avenue,. which is about 75 feet west of Whittemore Avenue, reach into bush, take out a box and put it under his coat, go back to automobile and drive away.
**Thanks to Phillip in helping me with this post!
Michael Melsky to LKH Forum
Sat Mar 9 14:47:02 2002
I think the key is the documentation. It seems with every new report I get my hands on - turns up more evidence that Hauptmann wasn't involved.
Officer James A. Avon, Bronx Police Department - Report 7-19-32:
Confidential Investigation Relative to the Activities of Dr. John F. Condon
At 9-25 P.M. April 13th, 1932, in presence of Det. Thompson Colonel Breckenridge and Al Reich, I interviewed Dr. Condon. I requested Dr. Condon to furnish me with the description of the above mentioned persons, and he stated that as much as he would like to help and cooperate with the police, he did not think it was fair at this time, as the life of a child was at stake, however, he did inform me that the description furnished in the newspaper as to the man he had contact with, was incorrect; but the location mentioned were correct.
At 2-00 P.M. May 14th, 1932 Dr. Condon (Jafsie) and Al Reich appeared at the District Attorney's office, Bronx, and a statement was taken from Dr. Condon by Asst. Dis. Atty. Bresslin, as to his connections with the Lindbergh kidnaping case, in the presence of Detectives Winterhalter, Thompson, and myself.
I interviewed Dr. Condon and obtained from him a description of "John" as stated on the reverse side, he being the man he negotiated with in the payment of the $50,000. ransom money, for the return of the baby. Dr. Condon further informed me that the original ransom notes were turned over by him to Edmund Hoover, Department of Treasury.
DESCRIPTION OF MAN KNOW AS "JOHN"
Scandinavian 30 yrs., 5'9" 158 to 165 lbs bluish grey, dirty blond, medium complexion, oval shaped face, prominent forehead, brown fedora hat, dark brown band, with a snap rim, black coat, light in fabric, pepper and salt trousers, black shoes, acted very nervous and was continually coughing.
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