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Antilles

Bruno Hauptmann - gulty or innocent?

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Posted (edited)

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In 1927 Charles Lindbergh became the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic from NY to Paris.

In 1932, his infant son was kidnapped and murdered.

In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed for the child's murder.

Did they get the right man?

Edited by Antilles
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If he was the wrong man, what does the family get, some sort of pardon?

Intersting post OP.

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http://seamusoriley....-testimony.html

You can read it for yourself.

He's pretty dodgy in some of his answers and he's on trial for hs life.

Maybe he was trying to shield someone.

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If he was the wrong man, what does the family get, some sort of pardon?

Intersting post OP.

Tis a book and movie deal they''ll get. (sorry for being so cynical)

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eldorado, I've started this thread because I'm interested in the case.

I'm not selling a book and I don't have a particular suspect to push.

I haven't made up my mind whether or not Hauptmann was guilty or innocent.

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I had to go back and refresh my memory about this case. I'd recalled that the evidence of guilt seemed overwhelming, and after going back and reviewing the case, it appears that it was.

Oddly, I currently have a library book which reviews the case (along with 4 others) called Murder, Culture, And Injustice, which provides the following information.

The 32 day trial was- at the time- "the longest and most sensational trial in American history", with "unprecedented media coverage."

"Lunch counters offered daily specials named for the key figures in the trial". Vendors sold souvenirs.

Journalist Norman Levy wrote that "All sense of proportion and much decency has been lost."

Edna Farber wrote (of the circus atmosphere) it "Made you want to resign as a member of the human race."

I think it's recognized and acknowledged that Hauptmann did not get a fair trial, and that's true for several reasons.

I regret that, but despite that fact, I do think he was guilty.

Here's an interesting passage from the above mentioned book, page 96

"Hauptmann's record thus revealed a criminal past marked by boldness, determination, and a modus operandi strikingly similar to that employed in the Lindberg case. Haughtmann had shown himself to be patient, hardened, and resourceful. Hauptmann revealed some of the characteristics of a classic sociopath, or anti social personality. Handsome and determined to maintain an appearance of innocense, Hauptmann often made a favorable impression on observers. Lindbergh himself captured Hauptmann's dualistic character, later describing him as 'a magnificent- looking man, splendidly built,' but with eyes 'like the eyes of a wild boar- mean, shifty, small, and cruel."

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Every post you make you have to go back and refresh your memory.

You think he's not guilty.

Why?

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Every post you make you have to go back and refresh your memory.

You think he's not guilty.

Why?

I have to refresh my memory because I don't walk around with specific cases foremost in my mind.

A lot of life's happened since I've read anything about this case, and I remembered believing that the man was guilty, but I also remembered that there were other suspects.

You know, sometimes one's perspective can change, Antilles.

I've been fascinated by true crime possibly (I suspect) longer than you've been alive, and it might have been that long since I've read about the case.

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Tis a book and movie deal they''ll get. (sorry for being so cynical)

LMAO

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eldorado, I've started this thread because I'm interested in the case.

I'm not selling a book and I don't have a particular suspect to push.

I haven't made up my mind whether or not Hauptmann was guilty or innocent.

I wasn't talkin of you, rather Bruno's kin.

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Interesting thread Ant, been a while since somebody took the time to start a thread about the Lindbergh kidnapping. :)

Like I said in the Sheppard thread, I recently bought a great Encyclopedia about wrongly convicted people ( or alleged wrongly convicted people ), and of course the case of the Lindbergh baby is an important part of the book. I think Hauptmann was involved in the kidnapping. I never had the feeling that he was completely innocent. Was the trial fair ?? No. Do I think Hauptmann should have been executed for the crime ?? Not at all. However I think he knew who committed the crime and I believe he could have been involved in the kidnapping.

Still, the trial was unfair and the fact Hauptmann was executed for this crime is just wrong.

For a good analysis of the case I recommend The Cases that haunt us, by John Douglas. http://www.amazon.com/Cases-That-Haunt-Us/dp/0671017063/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342316917&sr=1-5&keywords=lindbergh+kidnapping

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Posted (edited)

My great-grandmother told me that she waited up listening to the radio in 1936 just to make sure that he "got it". Hauptmann was a very unpopular person when he died in "Old Smokey" here.

10854_f260.jpg

He was caught with nearly $15,000 in from the ransom money hidden in his garage, which did look a little bit suspicious. That's how he really got caught, by trying to pass some of these bills at a gas station, and his explanation that he was just holding this for a friend who had gone back to Germany was not very convincing. All of these bills were gold certificates that had been withdrawn from circulation in 1933, although the feds still had the serial numbers.

One unexplained mystery has always been where $30,000 of the ransom money went. Did Hauptmann hide it somewhere else or did he have accomplices? Only about $5,000 had been found before the other stash was discovered in Hauptmann's house so the rest is unaccounted for.

I don't believe he was innocent, but maybe he wasn't acting alone.

http://www.rarenewspapers.com/view/550117

Edited by TheMacGuffin
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I think Hauptmann was involved but I don't think he acted alone. So, who was his accomplice?

He either wouldn't say and went to the chair protecting someone or it was the fishy Mr Fisch who was dead and couldn't help him anyway.

I think Hauptmann made the ladder and despite the accusations about police interference etc I think that's a fairly accurate call.

That money in his possession and his fishy story - still doesn't ring true after all these years.

But there was never any solid proof that he went anywhere near Lindbergh's house or that he took the child. The ladder and the money tie him in but they don't make him solely guilty.

He shouldn't have been executed that's for sure but I get the idea that feeling against him was running very high. So a chance at a trial before an impartial jury was never gonna happen.

You look at the news reel of the trial ( how come that was allowed?) and the prosecutor spends his time yelling at him. How Lindbergh made an ID of his voice after hearing 2 words over 2 years before is plainly ridiculous.

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The unaccounted for money is interesting because if it was ever traded, it should have turned up.

If anything, I think that shows it's unlikely that Hauptmann had an accomplice.

I've read about what the evidence was and I don't always read that a chisel was found somewhere in the vicinity under the window, and that particular size chisel- said to be a commonly used size- was missing from Hauptmann's tool box.

If that single thing is true, then I find it either strong circumstantial evidence, or an incredibly unfortunate coincidence. (I know common tools go missing, but it has to be figured in with other evidence.)

Re: Lindberg's ID of Hauptmann's voice, according to the book I mentioned (in which I've found errors) Lindberg was said to have consciously committed the voice to memory.

I know that Lindberg wanted the right person prosecuted, and I don't think he would have ID'd Hauptmann if he had any a doubt. Of course, he could have been simply mistaken, but who knows?

I tend to believe the witnesses who actually had contact with Hauptmann because the contact itself was very unusual and I think that would make Hauptmann more memorable to them.

I think he maintained innocence for the sake of his wife and child, and himself too.

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You hear someone, 2 years ago, speak 2 words to someone else and you remember that voice so completely that you can positively ID the voice?

Lindbergh wanted if not revenge then justice and I can fully understand that. The cops go hey this is the guy and Lindbergh goes yeah, absolutely, I remember his voice.

Well if no-one else has ever found that to be an incredible story then let me be the 1st. :yes:

If it had been an 'ordinary' trial then such testimony would never have been allowed.

Hauptmann never had a chance at a fair trial.

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You hear someone, 2 years ago, speak 2 words to someone else and you remember that voice so completely that you can positively ID the voice?

Lindbergh wanted if not revenge then justice and I can fully understand that. The cops go hey this is the guy and Lindbergh goes yeah, absolutely, I remember his voice.

Well if no-one else has ever found that to be an incredible story then let me be the 1st. :yes:

If it had been an 'ordinary' trial then such testimony would never have been allowed.

Hauptmann never had a chance at a fair trial.

Hasn't been established? Hauptmann didn't get a fail trial, but re: guilt or innocence- apart from Lindberg's ID of the voice- what other evidence do you question?

Re: Lindberg, I don't doubt for a second that he knew this case inside and out, that is, what the evidence was, and what it wasn't.

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No, you get me wrong. I myself have no doubt that Hauptmann was involved, I just don't believe he was the only one.

But he didn't get a fair trial and if you read about the case, these points are important: the handwriting evidence that he wrote the original kidnapping note. H said he was told to write the note with the wrong spelling which he did. His explanation of how he had the ransom money in his house - he said Fisch left it but the prosecution never proved that didn't happen. The timber found in his house I believe was used in the ladder and he was a carpenter but it was never proved that H made the ladder or that he took it to Hopewell or that he climbed the ladder and took the child.

It's all circumstantial and while it's strongly circumstantial it wasn't proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The hysteria around the case because it was Lindbergh's child made it almost certain that whoever was put in as defendant would be found guilty.

I also think that if you look at the time of the trial, you have growing unease with Germany because of Hitler. Here's a guy who's come to the USA illegally not once but twice. He's obviously involved. Lindbergh recognises his voice (and that was a travesty of justice allowing that testimony but understandable) so Hauptmann must be guilty.

Think of this case in a court today. With DNA and all our sophisticated CSI, he might be found guilty of being an accessory but that's it. Let's face it, if CSI couldn't convict OJ Simpson, then it couldn't convict Hauptmann.

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Posted (edited)

I agree, Antilles. The timing of the trial- the consciousness of the culture, the defendant's nationality, and who the victim was, may have been insurmountable circumstances for any defendant to overcome to receive a fair trial.

And you're right... if we know it wasn't a fair trial, then we have to question the credibility of the evidence.

I recall that about Hauptmann saying that he spelled words as he was told to, but if he was guilty, then it's an obvious thing to say. It seems to me that either side could have obtained other samples of his handwriting to support or contradict that.

What bothered me the most about Hauptmann was his story about the money. And if he had an accomplice, where is he? It seems only Haumptmann used the money.

Edited by regi
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Maybe H was just so dumb that he made up whatever story and he got stuck with it.

There is always that possibility.

But that just doesn't ring true to me. And Fisch is fishy, no doubt about it.

He got the box from a guy wh's dead and he kept the box. Then one day he got curious and opened it.

In a nutshell, that's H's story. To me, there are 3 possibilitiies.

1. He was just that dumb and thought people would believe his lie.

2. He was protecting someone really important enough to him that he would die for them.

3. It was the truth.

But no matter which way you look at it, he did not receive a fair trial. There was serious, circumstantial evidence that tied him into the crime but nothing to convict him of the child's murder.

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Posted (edited)

Well, yesterday, for the first time, I read excerpts from the trial transcripts, and I've been giving it and the case a lot of thought.

First off, I really don't figure that Hauptmann- or anyone else- would have had an accomplice. An accomplice certainly wasn't necessary for what occurred, and then the way things played out- that the notes were certainly written by the same person...that the meetings in the cemetery were surely with the same person each time, and that was the same person who handed over the baby's clothing-...the taxi driver gave the same description, and the one man in which the evidence is connected is of the same description, and the money is found in his home, hidden away in honey holes, and he at first lied about the money when first confronted about it, he said he had had three hundred to begin with that he had from savings, from the bank and from friends. It was later he pinned all the money on Fisch.

From trial testimony:

He didn't know Fisch before March 1, 1932.

He resigned from his job April 4th, 1932. (post ransom money), and lied about the reason. He'd had the job only a couple of weeks, said that they didn't pay him what they said they would, but his pay receipts reflected that they did.

From then until his arrest in 1934, the prosecution said he never looked for work. His wife quit her job in June, 1934.

Hauptmann said he worked the stock market and did carpentry.

During this same period, Hauptmann acknowledged that he spent $400. on a radio, $125. on field glasses, a canoe, trips to Florida, and had sent his wife to visit in Germany.

I think it was clear in this exchange of testimony, that it was Hauptmann's intention to cast further speculation on Fisch.

Q. So, Isidor Fisch didn't write the ransom note, did he?

A. I never said that.

According to info from a book which includes this case, what was most convincing to the jurors was the ladder. There was a lot of evidence surrounding the ladder, but I think it was the association of the ladder and Hauptmann's attic

When asked on the stand if he built the ladder, Hauptmann didn't immediately deny it as I would have expected, but he remarked that he was a carpenter.

I think this is an interesting point. The fact that the ladder was both crude (in over-all construction, yet clever in that it was designed to fold is significant. I think that shows that the ladder was built by one with carpentry skills, but built for one purpose only, and never intended to be used again.

On to the handwriting (mainly 'cause I'd wondered about it)....

Each of the handwriting experts (one prosc. witness, the other defense wit.) testified that there were other samples of handwriting... "documents having to do with drivers licenses", and then there was mention of (what I think is) some sort of contract called the Haberland agreement." Anyway, I think it's possible that there was nothing else located or maybe even in existence which could demonstrate Haumptmann's misspelling of words because he might have preferred to write in German whenever possible.

There were letters written by Hauptmann to Fisch's brother which had to be translated, but of course, I wouldn't expect to see such misspellings if he were writing in his native language.

To believe Hauptmann, we'd have to also believe that the police intended to frame him from the get-go.

One more thing, I found this exchange from the trial testimony interesting, and I can only imagine how it came across to those present.

Q. And when you saw this piece of wood with writing on it you said "That's my lumber." Isn't that so- in the Bronx.

A. I did.

Q. You did.

A. I said "Yes," without thinking.

Q. You usually don't do things without thinking.

A. No, my physical condition was so bad this time I could hardly think.

Q. Well, I say, you weren't thinking. You have a very good mind, haven't you?

A. I don't think so, not so good.

Q. Oh, you really think so, don't you?

A. (No answer.)

Edited by regi

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I forgot to comment on the chisel.

A chisel was located on the grounds of the Lindberg's estate, and was brought to the attention of Lindberg, who said it didn't belong on the property.

Hauptmann was questioned on the stand about his chisels.

Q. And are there any chisels missing from this box?

A. There are three Stanley chisels missing, them chisels they are no good at all, they were laying in the garage. But the Stanley chisels, good chisels, but I see it disappeared.

Q. When did you last see them in the box?

A. I would say a couple of days before I get arrested.

I guess he was suggesting that some unknown person must have taken his three chisels.

He was indeed clever; a chisel of a particular size which was collected from the kidnap scene and a chisel of the same size missing from his box is incriminating, and the only way to lessen the coincidence is to have more than one chisel missing.

The one particular chisel was missing, and he had to account for it's absence, so all he could do was attempt to lessen the obvious implication.

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Geez, I just don't know. Maybe he thought he was that good a liar and everyone would take his statements as the truth. But when he's on trial and it's his life on the line, if I'd been lying I'd be spilling my guts. He never did. He may have changed details but his basic story was always the same.

As I've said I believe he was involved. Without question.

But it was never proved beyond reasonable doubt.

H got a show trial really not that much different from what was going on in Germany. Like Sanco and Vachetti back in the 20's.

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Posted (edited)

Well, the way I see it, I don't think Hauptmann had any other choice but to lie. I think he knew he was done for- that either way he'd spend the remainder his life behind bars.

Re: his story about the money, one point I find interesting is that he claimed the discovery of the money was a surprise, yet he kept it from his wife. Also, he said he didn't count it. I find both of those things unbelievable.

It seems to me that he'd wonder 1) why Fisch left the money, 2) why Fisch didn't tell him about it, 3) what Fisch's plans were for the money, and 4) where the money came from.

Anyone in their right mind would wonder those things.

If he decided that Fisch actually owed him the money- as he claimed Fisch did- then there was no reason to keep it's discovery from his wife.

By the time of his trial, Fisch was dead, and Hauptmann's life was on the line, and he had a family depending on him. I don't believe that if Fisch had been his accomplice- or if Fisch was the guilty one and Hauptmann suspected him- that he'd spare Fisch. Also, he claimed Fisch owed him money. If that was true, then why didn't Fisch just give the money to Hauptmann before he left?

I've read differing opinions on whether Hauptmann received a fair trial. I've read that there was inappropriate conduct in the courtroom by spectators, and that the jury was heckled each day as they left the courthouse. I think if those things alone are true, then it should have been considered jury tampering (or whatever word they have for it) because I do think the jury would have felt pressured to convict Hauptmann. Still, the evidence seems to be overwhelming. I know it doesn't say much to say that people have been convicted on lesser evidence, but I think there was just too much to be disputed. I don't know anything about the conduct of the attorney's and judge during trial, but I do know that there were appeals...

One thing interesting that I've come across that I haven't given any thought to that $2,990 was exchanged in Manhattan under the name of J.J. Faulkner, address 537 West 149th Street New York City. A person by the name of Jane Faulkner had lived at that add., but more than a decade before.

The woman had moved after marrying a German man named Geissler, and they were tracked down, and the only further info is that they denied involvement.

Well, clearly, someone gave a bogus address when exchanging that money, but surely they must have had a certain amount familiarity with the people/address.

A point I've seen made re: the ladder is that if there been an accomplice- at least at the kidnap scene- that the ladder wouldn't have been left behind. I think that's a good point because the ladder was carried away for some distance to where it was abandoned.

Also, the point's been made that because the ladder broke might have been another reason (or reason alone) that it was left behind. I realize that there'd be no further use for the ladder but I wonder why it was carried away to where it was located if it was intended to be left behind anyway.

Edited by regi

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I think your point about the ladder is good.

Why take it away from the house and dump it?

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Right. If the intention was to leave the ladder where it was later found, then there was no reason to use time and effort at the risk of detection after the objective was accomplished.

I think it's possible that since it broke, that might have hindered it from folding... or for some other reason, the ladder was perceived as too much of a problem, and so it was at that moment that it was decided to just abandoned it where it was.

There doesn't appear to have been an accomplice at the scene... we also have the chisel.

It follows that the perp who dropped the chisel was the same perp who went through the window. One perp. Same perp.

It doesn't make sense that if there was an accomplice, that he wouldn't be present during the most critical aspect of the crime, and there's no indication that there had been more than one person there.

I think the evidence shows more that there wasn't an accomplice at the scene, and the subsequent evidence reinforces that it was only one person involved.

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