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A Talent to Deceive

Who REALLY Killed the Lindbergh Baby?

A Talent to Deceive by William Norris
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The kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's infant son, and the subsequent trial and execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, have been a source of fascination for more than 70 years. Now, for the first time, William Norris delves into sources of information ignored by previous investigators and comes up with the identity of the true culprit.
SynergEbooks; March 2006
356 pages; ISBN 9780744310832
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: A Talent to Deceive
Author: William Norris

On the night of March 1st, 1932, a small child was taken from his bedroom in a lonely house near Hopewell, New Jersey. A ransom note was discovered, and a demand of $50,000 paid by the distraught parents. But the little boy never came home. His body was later found some two miles away, decomposed almost beyond recognition.

There was nothing terribly unusual about this tragedy. Kidnapping was rife in America at the time. In the three years prior to 1932 there had been at least 2,500 such cases. Only the identity of the parents transformed this event from the banal to the sensational: they were Charles A. Lindbergh and his wife, the former Anne Morrow. Hence it became labelled the Crime of the Century in the popular press, to be followed in due course by the Trial of the Century. It also became The Case That Will Never Die.

Charles Lindbergh, as every schoolboy knows, was the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic in May 1927 at the age of 28. He was the Great American Hero, lauded wherever he went. Young, handsome, shy and reserved, Lindbergh was the epitome of everything America wanted to be (but rarely was). If it had been in the power of his countrymen to award him sainthood he would have been beatified in an instant. As it was, they worshipped him and touched the hem of his garment whenever they could. Even now, to suggest that this idol might have feet of clay verges on blasphemy in some quarters.

Lindbergh had met his future wife, Anne Morrow, when he accepted an invitation to travel to Mexico City for Christmas 1927. She was the second daughter of Senator Dwight W. Morrow, then U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who was being widely tipped as the next U.S. President. He was also enormously wealthy, a brilliant lawyer who had made his fortune as a partner in the banking firm of J.P.Morgan. It was a slow-burning romance – though she claimed to have fallen in love with him at first sight – but Lindbergh finally descended from the clouds to pursue the courtship, and the couple were formally engaged on February 12, 1929. The public adulation and media frenzy which had followed Lindbergh ever since his flight to Paris now engulfed them both. They were married privately in front of a few close friends and relatives at the Morrow's new home in Englewood on May 27 of that year.

There was one notable absentee from the wedding: Anne's only brother, 21-years-old Dwight Jr. The two had always been close – she was his favourite sister - but her engagement to Lindbergh had brought to a head an affliction which had begun in Dwight Jr.'s teenage years. He suffered from schizophrenia, and was destined to have recurring bouts of the mental disease for the rest of his life. On hearing of Lindbergh's engagement to his sister he is said to have flown into a jealous rage and become quite uncontrollable. This upstart airman had not only stolen his favourite sister, but threatened to become the male head of the Morrow family should his father die. He was sent away for psychiatric treatment, and it was judged unsafe to permit him to attend the wedding ceremony.

The newly-wed couple were to be given no peace. They were hounded by the press on their honeymoon, spent on board a cabin cruiser off the coast of Maine, and pestered incessantly as they later flew together on trips all over the United States and the Caribbean. Anne became pregnant in October 1929, but the constant flights continued unabated until Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. was born, at the Englewood house, on June 22nd, 1930.

The need for privacy now become paramount, and by the end of September the couple had bought 500 acres of remote woodland in the Sourland Mountains of New Jersey and started to build themselves a house. They had begun to live there, though only at weekends, when the kidnapping occurred.

The events that followed were quite extraordinary. Suffice for the moment to say that, more than two years later, an illegal German immigrant named Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murder after some $14,600 of the ransom money was found in his garage. After a sensational trial lasting more than six weeks he was convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed in the electric chair at the State Prison at Trenton, New Jersey, on April 3, 1936.

Hauptmann protested his innocence to the last. To this day, intense controversy rages over the case. A plethora of books have been written, some affirming his guilt, others equally passionate in claiming that his conviction was a travesty of justice. The problem with the latter has been that not one, so far as I am aware, has identified the true culprit with any degree of certainty or any supporting evidence. Some have blamed "the mob," others have even suggested that Charles Lindbergh himself killed his son by accident, or even murdered him because he had a slight genetic defect. Many claim that he obstructed the police investigation. The last, at least, is certainly true – as we shall see. But the motive for Lindbergh's actions may have been entirely different from those ascribed to him.

The basis for all investigative journalism is the five Ws: Who? Why? What? When? and Where? The When and the Where and the What, we know. This book is an attempt to answer the Who and the Why.
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