The Case That Never Dies: The Lindbergh Kidnapping


Gardner, Lloyd C.


Rutgers University Press



ISBN (10 digit): 



When Charles Lindbergh's baby son was mysteriously taken from his home near Hopewell, New Jersey, in 1932, the world was shocked. It happened during the worst period of the Great Depression, at a time when kidnapping neared epidemic proportions across the nation. Despite the overwhelming publicity the case received both at the time and in all the years since, many controversies surrounding the "Crime of the Century" and subsequent trial have never been resolved. The Case That Never Dies is a comprehensive study of the Lindbergh kidnapping, investigation, and trial, placing it in the context of the Depression, when many feared the country was on the edge of anarchy. Historian Lloyd C. Gardner delves deeply into aspects of the case that remain confusing to this day. These include Lindbergh's dealings with crime baron Owney Madden, Al Capone's New York counterpart, through gangland intermediaries, as well as the inexplicable exploits of John Condon, a retired schoolteacher who became the prosecution's chief witness. The initial investigation was hampered by Colonel Lindbergh, who insisted that the police not attempt to find the perpetrator because he feared the investigation would endanger his son's life. He relented only when the child was found dead. After two years of fruitless searching, a German immigrant, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was discovered to have some of the ransom money in his possession. Hauptmann was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. Throughout the book, Gardner pays special attention to the evidence of the case and how it was used and misused in the trial. Whether Hauptman was guilty or not, Gardner concludes that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of first-degree murder. The Case That Never Dies draws upon never-before-used FBI records that reveal the animosity between J. Edgar Hoover and Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the New Jersey State Police. The story is filled with incredible twists and turns that continue to fascinate people. Set in historical context, this book offers not only a compelling read, but a powerful vantage point from which to observe the United States in the 1930s, as well as contemporary arguments over capital punishment.