Bizarre verhalen (deel 3): de Charles Lindbergh-baby

zo, 27/12/2020 - 10:31

Op 1 maart 1932 werd de baby van Charles Lindbergh III ontvoerd. De baby was 20 maanden oud. Hij was verdwenen uit zijn kamertje op de eerste verdieping van de witte villa van de Lindbergh familie, waar het kind had liggen te slapen in zijn bedje. Een ladder, die door iemand met de hand gemaakt was, stond rechtop onder het raam van de kinderkamer. Iemand had het kind via een slecht sluitend raam ontvoerd. De baby was uit het bedje getild en had niet gehuild. Dezelfde avond nog werd de ontvoering ontdekt.

Op het eerst zicht lijkt het allemaal nog niet zo bizar wellicht: een baby van een bekend persoon die wordt ontvoerd. Maar wacht tot je het hele verhaal hebt gelezen (uittreksel uit David McGowan: Programmed to Kill):

Before Jon Benét Ramsey, there was the ‘Eaglet,’ otherwise known as Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. His mother was Anne Morrow Lindbergh, born on the summer solstice to Dwight Morrow, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, onetime partner at J.P. Morgan, and close associate of OSS Director and MK-ULTRA operative “Wild Bill” Donovan. His father, of course, was famed aviator Charles Augustus Lindbergh (not to be confused with Richard Speck’s step-father, Carl August Lindbergh). Lindbergh’s father, in turn, was a prominent attorney and United States Congressman also named Charles Augustus Lindbergh, and his grandfather had been a member of the Swedish Parliament before moving the family to the United States in 1860. Charles’ mother was Evangeline Land, a daughter of Dr. Charles Land.

The Lands—like the Lindberghs, Morrows, and Donovans—were closely tied to the American intelligence infrastructure. Dr. Edwin Land later was the driving force behind the U-2 spy plane project and the chairman of an intelligence subcommittee. He also founded the Scientific Engineering Institute, which served as one of the major funding conduits for MK-ULTRA projects. In 1905, Charles and Evangeline’s family farmhouse burned down and the couple thereafter lived apart, although they remained married. Charles, Sr. was soon inaugurated as a U.S. Congressman. The junior Charles remained with his mother, and for the rest of his childhood, Evangeline kept him away from others. She was so hated by the local townspeople that on at least one occasion, shots were reportedly fired at her and her son. Fascinated with both guns and aviation, Charles joined the Army Air Corps in 1924.

Three years later, he made his famed trans-Atlantic flight and instantly became an international celebrity. After touring the country and basking in the mass adulation, as well as picking up a Congressional Medal of Honor, Lindbergh stayed at the opulent Guggenheim estate where he passed the time with such notables as John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and Dwight Morrow. By December 1927, Morrow had introduced Charles to his daughter Anne. Reportedly engaged after just three dates, the couple was married in May 1929. Just over a year later, on the summer solstice of 1930, yet another Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born. Around that same time, Charles began working at the Rockefeller Institute in New York alongside Alexis Carrel, a eugenics-minded researcher who openly called for the mass extermination of the unfit.

Lindbergh chroniclers Ahlgren and Monier described Carrel as “a strange individual who wore a black hooded robe in the laboratory and insisted that all of his lab assistants do the same.” Lindbergh also acquired a plane to use for survey flights, which he christened the Sirius, so named for the brightest star in the night sky, located in the constellation Canis Major. Also known as the ‘Dog Star,’ it is believed by some occultists to represent Lucifer, the ‘light bearer’ or ‘enlightened one.’ On March 1, 1932, the Eaglet disappeared from the Lindbergh family home—a rambling, newly built, two-story mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey. According to American popular mythology, the child was kidnapped from the isolated, remote and occupied home. The facts of the case have never supported that notion. Any kidnapper would have had to know the exact location of the child’s second-story room, and would have had to know that the shutters on the window of that particular room were the only ones on the house that did not properly latch.

It would have also helped to know that Charles Lindbergh had ordered that the child not be disturbed before 10:00 PM that evening, and that there would therefore be little risk of discovery by any of the five adults who were moving freely about the house that evening. The kidnapper would have had to enter a well lit home that was owned by a man with a known penchant for firearms, and do so without alarming an extremely high-strung dog that was known to bark at the slightest provocation, but that nevertheless never barked that entire evening.

The kidnapper would further have had to know that the Lindberghs were going to be home that night, since it was not their custom to stay at the house during the week. Other than on weekends, the family could usually be found at “Next Day Hill,” the country estate of the Morrow family in Englewood, New Jersey. Charles Lindbergh had requested an unusual deviation from the normal family routine, just as he had requested that no one enter his son’s room that evening. Upon discovering that the child was missing, Lucky Lindy immediately declared that there had been a kidnapping, before making any effort to search the house and before the discovery of an alleged ransom note. Anne Lindbergh’s first thought was that Charles had done something with the boy. The child’s nursemaid, Bettie Gow, drew the same conclusion.

That was in part due to Charles having staged a fake abduction just two months prior, by hiding the child in a closet for twenty minutes and announcing a kidnapping while the household panicked. This time, however, Charles produced a ransom note, which he claimed he found on the windowsill of the nursery, after the room had already been thoroughly searched by Anne, Bettie, and another family servant, Elsie Whatley. Charles Lindbergh promptly made a series of phone calls. The first was to his friend and attorney, Colonel Henry Breckinridge, a former Assistant Secretary of War.

The next was to Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf,51 another friend and the head of the New Jersey State Police, a law enforcement agency designed and run as a military entity. The third was to Colonel William “Wild Bill” Donovan. All three colonels joined in the investigation. Breckinridge brought along Robert Thayer, a known associate of various organized crime figures. Thayer, who was married to a Standard Oil heiress, was later identified as a CIA agent working under State Department cover. To insure that there were enough intelligence operatives in the mix, Admiral Emory S. Land later became peripherally involved in the investigation as well.

Lindbergh appeared calm, cool and collected to police arriving at the scene, and he immediately took command of the investigation, in conjunction with Colonel Schwarzkopf. The Colonel’s State Police badly mishandled the investigation right from the start by failing to secure the crime scene, which compromised every piece of potential evidence in sight. They did though quickly set up a command post in the Lindbergh’s garage, bring in extra phone lines, and begin a fullscale media circus that possibly topped even the Ramsey spectacle. Before long, reporters were allowed to join with the police in freely trampling over potential evidence. The only piece of evidence that does appear to have been gathered was a crudely constructed ladder that allegedly was used to enter the second-story window of the Lindbergh child’s room. The room itself yielded no evidence whatsoever.

As trooper on the scene exclaimed, after the room had been thoroughly dusted for fingerprints: “I’m damned if I don’t think somebody washed everything in that nursery before the printmen got there.” The investigation essentially went nowhere for the next several weeks. The only major development was that Lindbergh enlisted the services of a number of organized crime figures, ostensibly to assist in solving the crime and locating the child. Lindy even attempted to secure the release from prison of the notorious Al ‘Scarface’ Capone. On May 12, 1932, the mutilated and decomposed corpse of a child was found less than three miles from the Lindbergh home. The body was ‘discovered’ in a remote location where there was only one building nearby—a Catholic orphanage directly across the road. The corpse’s left leg was missing below the knee, as was the left hand, right arm, and most of the internal organs. A ludicrously inept autopsy was promptly performed on the body.

Although it was claimed at the time that the examination was performed by Dr. Charles Mitchell, it was actually the work of funeral home director Walter Swayze, who was entirely unqualified for the task. That fact was kept covered up for some forty-five years. The cause of death, if the ‘autopsy’ report is to be believed, was from a blow to the head. Though no photographs were taken of the skull during the examination, it was claimed that there was evidence of a fracture and a resultant blood clot, as well as a small round hole in the base of the skull. Charles Lindbergh himself positively identified the body as that of his missing child. His daughter Reeve later stated: “He would have examined the teeth, he would have examined the hair, he would have checked the clothing, any physical evidence…that would have been where he would find relief would have been in the facts.” It is unlikely that Lindbergh did any of that.

He reportedly was in-andout of the morgue in less than 90 seconds. In truth, all he really needed to check was a tape measure; the body that was discovered was thirty-three inches tall, according to Swayze’s autopsy report, whereas the missing Lindbergh child was only twenty-nine inches tall, as listed on the ‘Wanted’ posters distributed around the country. The boy’s own physician, who spent more time with the corpse than Lindbergh, was unable to positively identify the remains. The body was most likely not that of the Eaglet, and Charles Lindbergh, Sr. must surely have been aware of that even as he claimed the dead child as his own and ordered its immediate destruction. Less than twenty-four hours after being discovered, the body had been cremated and the ashes scattered at sea Anne Lindbergh would later say that she never saw Charles shed a tear for the slain boy.

As the investigation progressed, a number of people connected to the disappearance met with untimely deaths or otherwise dropped out of sight. The Morrow family maid, Violet Sharpe, allegedly killed herself with cyanide just before a visit from the head of the State Police in June 1932. Schwarzkopf claimed that he found her dead upon his arrival. He had been, by most accounts, relentlessly and unconscionably harassing the woman. A German-born gardener, Henry Liepold, who was at one time considered a suspect and who one handwriting expert thought was the author of the ransom note, allegedly killed himself in October 1933. Oliver Whately, another household servant and potential witness, died of unspecified causes before the case made it to trial. And Bettie Gow’s boyfriend, “Red” Johnson, was held by police, without being charged, for eighteen days before he was shipped off to Norway, never to be heard from again. Johnson had worked for a business partner of Dwight Morrow.

On September 19, 1934, German immigrant Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. After being held without access to an attorney, deprived of sleep, and unmercifully beaten, all in an effort to extract a bogus confession, Hauptmann was put in a police line-up alongside two burly Irish cops, one of them still in uniform. He was positively identified. Schwarzkopf’s New Jersey State Police promptly moved Hauptmann’s wife out of their home, assumed the lease, and moved in. By all appearances, they then proceeded to manufacture and plant evidence. A week after Hauptmann’s arrest, an officer living in his former home ‘discovered’ that the ladder found at the Lindbergh home had been partially constructed from a floorboard allegedly missing from the attic of the Hauptmann home.

The trial of Richard Hauptmann was, even relative to the standards established by other trials discussed in this book, a ridiculously transparent sham. Virtually everyone who has studied the case, including those who believe that Hauptmann was guilty, acknowledge that the defense case that was presented was hopelessly inept. Hauptmann’s attorney, Edward J. Reilly, who was provided for him by the New York Daily Mirror, had only one fifteen-minute private conference with his client throughout the entire trial. He was visibly inebriated during much of the proceedings. He was also reportedly supplied with a steady stream of attractive young prostitutes throughout the trial. Even had Reilly been motivated to win the case, it would have been an uphill battle. No deposition of witnesses was allowed and no discovery evidence was turned over by the state. The prosecution’s case was kept completely under wraps until it was revealed at trial, making it impossible to plan a defense. A number of the witnesses called by the state gave obviously perjured testimony that was completely at odds with both prior statements to police and prior testimony before a grand jury. One such witness was Charles Lindbergh himself, who was, amazingly enough, allowed to sit at the prosecution table throughout the trial, packing a loaded handgun in a shoulder holster.

Transcripts of the trial reveal a painfully obvious bias displayed by the judge, who distinguished himself by routinely overruling all defense objections and just as routinely sustaining all prosecution objections. He also openly mocked the case presented by the defense in his final summation to the jury. Despite the obviously stacked deck, however, the defense could have introduced enough reasonable doubt to win an acquittal had the identification of the child’s body been challenged. It was not, however, and Hauptmann was quickly found guilty and sentenced to die. Just two weeks after the guilty verdict was rendered, defense attorney Reilly suffered a complete nervous breakdown. He was quickly shuffled off to a Brooklyn mental hospital in a straightjacket. Just a few weeks later, he was back in action as though nothing had happened.

Appeals of the conviction were summarily denied, the final denial coming from the U.S. Supreme Court on December 9, 1935. New Jersey Governor Hoffman, however, was resisting the wholesale fraud being perpetrated. He openly accused both Schwarzkopf’s team and the prosecution team of fabricating evidence, particularly the ladder, and he announced his intention to go to the Board of Pardons on Hauptmann’s behalf. In the wake of that announcement, the Lindberghs fled the country bound for the United Kingdom. Hauptmann was executed three-and-a-half months later at the state prison in Trenton, New Jersey.

Lindbergh soon wound up in Nazi Germany, where he developed close ties to the Nazi elite, particularly Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering. He also became a mouthpiece for virulently anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi propaganda. It was mentioned previously that the Lindberghs immigrated to America from Sweden in 1860. It was at that time that Lindy’s grandfather opted to change the family name. Had he not done so, one of America’s greatest folk heroes, Charles Lindbergh, would likely have had a much different name, although one perhaps no less well known: Charles Mansson.