On May 12, 1932, the saga of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping came to a tragic end when the baby’s body was found in Hopewell, New Jersey, less than a mile from the Lindbergh family’s home. The heartbroken Lindberghs moved away and donated the home to charity.
The trouble began on March 1, 1932, when Anne Lindbergh, the wife of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, found their baby missing and a note demanding a $50,000 ransom in his place. It was quickly discovered that the kidnapper had used a ladder to get up to the child’s second-floor room, but nothing further was heard from the kidnapper until three days later when a second note, upping the demand to $70,000, was sent.
The kidnapper then went silent for a much longer time. As the Lindberghs anxiously waited, and the nation along with them, offers of help poured in from around the country. Even imprisoned gangster Al Capone offered to help. Finally, on April 2, the kidnapper sent instructions for dropping off the ransom money. The family promptly delivered the money, and the kidnapper responded by saying that the baby could be found on a boat off the shore of Massachusetts. No boat was found matching the description, though.
Then, on May 12, the child’s body was found. He had been killed on the night of the kidnapping. By the time his mother found the first ransom note, the baby was already dead.
For a while, it looked like the case would never be solved. Then, in late 1934, a gas station attendant wrote down the license plate number of a driver who acted suspiciously and reported it to the police. The bill the driver had paid the attendant with turned out to be one of the marked bills used in to pay the ransom. The kidnapper, a man by the name of Bruno Hauptmann, was quickly arrested. After what was termed “the trial of the century,” Hauptmann was convicted. He was executed in April of 1936.