Volume 28, Issue 4 (October 1983)
The Lindbergh Case Revisited: A Review of the Criminalistics Evidence
The Lindbergh kidnapping case, now over half a century old, has been the subject of numerous books and articles, several films, and a current lawsuit. Doubts about the guilt of Bruno Richard Hauptmann raised in the late 1930s persist today. The identification of the body of the child found in the woods near the Lindbergh estate approximately two months after the kidnapping is still being questioned. Criticisms of the purported associations between the homemade ladder left at the scene with Hauptmann's tools and with wood in his residence are also still being voiced. The retention of the crucial pieces of physical evidence by the New Jersey State Police and their new accessibility as a result of an executive order makes a contemporary evaluation of these questions possible. In January of 1983 the author, at the invitation of the president of the American Academy, Anthony Longhetti, traveled to New Jersey, viewed the original crime scene, studied the trial exhibits and re-examined the major items of physical evidence exclusive of the kidnap and ransom notes. Certain criminalistic examinations carried out by the New Jersey State Police Forensic Science Bureau in 1977 were also reviewed in preparing this paper for the 1983 plenary session.