The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Mystery

By:  James Perloff
04/13/2012
       
The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Mystery

 After Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis from New York to France in 1927, completing the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight, he became America’s most admired hero. “The Lone Eagle,” as he was called, then helped develop aviation and married Anne Morrow, daughter of diplomat Dwight Morrow. Anne learned to fly, and she and Charles made spectacular intercontinental flights together. In 1930, the first of their six children, Charles, Jr., was born, dubbed “the Eaglet” by the press.

 
 

 After Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis from New York to France in 1927, completing the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight, he became America’s most admired hero. “The Lone Eagle,” as he was called, then helped develop aviation and married Anne Morrow, daughter of diplomat Dwight Morrow. Anne learned to fly, and she and Charles made spectacular intercontinental flights together. In 1930, the first of their six children, Charles, Jr. (photo), was born, dubbed “the Eaglet” by the press.

 
But tragedy struck on the windy evening of March 1, 1932. The child was snatched from his second-story bedroom. The kidnapper(s) left a crude note demanding $50,000 ransom. It bore a mysterious “signature”: overlapping red and blue circles, and three punched holes. On the ground outside, police found a chisel and homemade three-piece ladder.
 
The Lindberghs’ Response
As the largest manhunt in American history began, police and reporters swarmed the Lindbergh estate in Hopewell, New Jersey. Thousands of letters poured in from both well-wishers and cranks. Among these were notes from the kidnappers bearing the strange signature. These scolded Lindbergh for violating their instructions not to involve police. The Lindberghs publicly pleaded for the child’s return, promising to meet the kidnappers’ demands.
 
Because Charles Lindbergh suspected organized crime, his attorneys contacted known racketeers. The latter offered to make inquiries — but, they warned, the kidnapping didn’t seem like work of “the Mob,” who would have asked more than $50,000 for Lindbergh’s son.
 
On March 8, John Condon, a retired New York City school principal, published a newspaper announcement, offering to be the intermediary for the ransom exchange. Condon then received an anonymous message authorizing him as go-between, with an enclosed letter addressed to Lindbergh. Because that letter bore the unique symbolic signature, Lindbergh met Condon, and accepted the old man as intermediary.
 
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— Photo: AP Images
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