More Crime of the Century FAQs!
31. What finally happened to all those gold notes found hidden in Hauptmann's Bronx garage?
Ans: After being used as evidence (actually Identification) in the Flemington Trial, this cache of kidnap money was eventually returned by Prosecutor Hauck to lawyer Henry Breckinridge's Broadway office. With Lindbergh's approval - by letter from England - it was deposited to CAL's account at the Bankers Trust Co., 14 Wall Street, NYC, on June 8, 1936. The newspaper accounts of the following day (e.g. the NY Times), gave the total amount as $14,665, which represented 390 - $10s & 493 - gold $20s (from the south wall of the garage), and 84 - $10s (from the drilled-out board), with an additional three gold twenties and one red-seal five from two local banks. The actual notes were then preserved at the US Treasury where they may still reside today. The $2980 "Faulkner" conversion of May 1, 1933 was not mentioned or returned, nor the other bills previously identified in circulation from the original list: 114 - $5's and 133 gold $10's; only 3 (green seal) Federal Reserve $20s were ever located, and just 5 - $20 gold certificates (altogether), thus giving them the lowest recovery rate of the three denominations.
32. I am confused by the varying reports of how many gold notes were in the original $50,000 ransom payment. For example, Henry Lee's recent book, Famous Crimes Revisited, says all the money had gold seals.
Ans: Many books get this important detail wrong. The ransom delivered to "Cemetery John" on April 2, 1932 consisted of 4,750 bills, all in 1928 series US currency. As the Nursery Note stipulated, there was $10,000 in $5's, $15,000 in $10's, and $25,000 in $20's. None of the 2000 - $5's were gold notes (such did not exist), all of the 1500 - $10's were gold, and 80% of the 1250 - $20's were gold certificates as well. Thus, out of the $50,000 total, $35,000 was officially redeemable in gold coin (70%). If calculated by the number of bills (rather than the dollar value), the ratio was 2500/4750, or 52.6%.
33. Weren't the twelve Jurors going to write a book of their experiences - whatever happened to that idea?
Ans: The identities of the Jurors had become well-known - they received hundreds of letters afterwards (pro and con) - but the book project never worked out. Their personal impressions were gathered by Fred Schanze and the North American Newspaper Alliance and serialized by the NY Evening Journal, each of the first four on the front pages. The subsequent columns were also accompanied by matching photos. Capital case juries in NJ required all members to be sequestered, during both trial and deliberations; each juror received $3 per day for a total of $129. The order of the articles was not always the same as the original Juror number. The first story, by Foreman Walton (1), - a machinist - appeared on June 24th (Mon); George Voorhees (9) - a farmer - on the 25th; Robert Cravatt (7) - a clerical supervisor (still alive?) - on Wed.; Mrs. May Brelsford (10) - a housewife - on the 27th; Mrs Verna Snyder - a housewife - on Friday; Elmer Smith (6) - insurance salesman - on the 29th; Charles Snyder (4), no relation - a farmer - on July 1st; Philip Hockenbury (8) - railroad worker - on Tuesday; Liscom Case (11) - a retired carpenter who would die before Hauptmann - on July 3rd; Rosie Pill (2) - a housewife - on Friday; Ethel Stockton (5) - a legal secretary - on July 6th (still alive); and lastly, Howard Biggs (12) - an unemployed bookkeeper - the following Monday. The average age was just over 45 and there were no alternates.
34. The jurors seemed to imply that they took only one vote before making their final decision about Hauptmann. Is this true?
Ans: I believe that the eight men and four women made an "agreement" not to reveal the details of their 11-hour deliberations. However, one may reconstruct several steps, based on newspaper accounts, as well as Ethel Stockton's videotaped interview several years ago. The first vote (on whether BRH was guilty) was 11 - 1; the second tally was 12 - 0. Then the Penalty phase required five more ballots, moving from 9 - 3 to 12 - 0. The last person to vote "guilty without mercy" (requiring the electric chair) was Robert Cravatt. It has long been rumored that the first "not guilty" was Philip Hockenbury - because of his subsequent death on a railroad track - but it was more likely Cravatt.
35. It is sometimes very confusing to read about who testified when and exactly what they said during the Trial. Is there any more complete version of the Court Transcript than Sidney Whipple's 1937 abridgement?
Ans: The "LindyTruth" website has produced a CD-ROM version of the entire trial (4791 pages, w/ FBI Summary Report, Exhibits and Appeals) in Adobe PDF format. The Release version 3.0 is now available (with Hauptmann's newsreel, Related Cases, and 2 period songs) - please ask your web host Allen about it.
36. Anthony Scaduto, in his book Scapegoat, claimed that Hauptmann really did work all day on March 1, 1932 at the Majestic Apts. in Manhattan, and that the Prosecution altered the records to prove otherwise. Is this true?
Ans: This would indeed be scandalous if true - but it is another of Scaduto's red herrings. At the Trial, even BRH agreed that he did not work there until March 15 - 16, 1932, and confirmed this in his Autobiography. The decisive proof was the dated employment card (covering all of March) brought to Court by treasurer Edward Morton, and admitted as Evidence (S-208). Even foreman Joseph Furcht had to agree, and his only March check (covering the second half of the month) - $36.67 (for eleven days' pay) - was endorsed by Hauptmann and brought to Court (see FAQ 16). The recently discovered 'Mar 1 - 15, 1932' Majestic Payroll Sheets do not show Hauptmann's name.
37. Much has been published about the ladder wood, the plane marks, and especially Rail 16 - but what about the nails used in its construction?
Ans: A total of 44 8-penny round "common" nails (2-1/2") were used to construct the three sections of the kidnap ladder. These were scrutinized by Stanley R. Keith, a metallurgist with Bethlehem Steel. He determined that all of them were made by the Pittsburgh Steel Co. and used a head-stamp that dated them to 1931-32. The FBI Summary Report states that it was not possible to identify items like nails with any specificity because of the vast number manufactured each year. Even Keith ran into this opinion when he visited the factory at Monessen, Penn., but during a double-blind study of over 5,000 nails, he was able to advance modern nail forensics. Pittsburgh Steel manufactured about 10% of all 8d nails in the US, or 200,000 kegs, in the year prior to the kidnapping. By examining the die marks on the heads and shanks, Keith was able to determine that not all nails were alike, but bore distinctive features that could be identified and dated to production cycles. As a result of his investigation, published in the Industry Trade Journal - Iron Age - on Oct. 17, 1935, he was able to prove that the nails in Hauptmann's garage and the ones used in the ladder came from the same factory batch of 16 kegs, out of a possible 200,000. The correlation was well over 99%. Keith was held in reserve at the Trial, as a Rebuttal Witness (like many others), but questions about the chain of custody and the technical nature of his report, may have influenced Wilentz' decision. A copy is available to website visitors. Court-TV on May 11, 2005, reconfirmed the ladder wood as coming from Hauptmann's attic.
38. What crime exactly was Hauptmann charged with that merited the death penalty - wasn't kidnapping just a minor offense in New Jersey at the time? And couldn't the Lindbergh child have died accidentally, in a fall?
Ans: Under New Jersey law in 1932, kidnapping was only a misdemeanor, a relatively low-level crime which did not carry the death penalty - only moderate jail time. And there was, as yet, no Federal jurisdiction. However, as the NJ "Supreme Court" later ruled (when it reviewed the Hauptmann case on appeal), BRH was charged with, and convicted of, the crime of "Murder in the First Degree," because a homicide occurred during a burglary (under the Common Law). For there to be a burglary, the state was required to prove that Hauptmann broke and entered a dwelling house of another, by night, with the intent to commit larceny - anything of value - inside (a Felony). This intent could be inferred retroactively from the act of theft itself. Legally, then, Hauptmann committed burglary by opening the window (BREAKING), going inside (ENTERING) the Lindbergh home (DWELLING HOUSE) after 8:00 p.m. (BY NIGHT) and taking the child with its sleepingsuit (FELONY OF LARCENY). The homicide of that child during the burglary (even if accidental) made the crime First Degree Murder - which mandated the death penalty if the Jury voted guilty without mercy. The Court appeals ran 14 months before the sentence was carried out - by electrocution - in Trenton, NJ, on April 3, 1936. His body was cremated and the ashes returned to Germany.
39. Why did only one handwriting expert at the Trial testify on behalf of Hauptmann - that he did not write the ransom notes? Didn't Reilly say this was due to a lack of funds?
Ans: When two of his intended witnesses quit on the 14th, Reilly cited this reason on the front page of the Jan. 15, 1935 New York Times. But in the Jan. 12th issue, he had said About fifteen experts have volunteered to help us. That Saturday (the 12th), eight such experts did come to the Hotel Hildebrecht in Trenton and met in a special suite of 6 rooms on the third floor. Over the weekend, they closely examined all the actual ransom notes (under guard), as well as the States Exhibits - before this, the Defense had only photostatic copies. The eight people - who received much publicity - were: Arthur P. Myers, Mrs Charles Foster, Miss Julia Farr, Frau Hilda Braunlich, Rudolph Thielen, John Trendley, C. F. Goodsteed, and Samuel Malone. Their travel expenses, even from Germany, were paid for by Reilly. However, within two weeks, the only one left was Trendley (see Transcript, pp. 3167-3274) - whose regular job was as a "de-icer" for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. When lawyer Sam Leibowitz visited Hauptmann in his cell in 1936 (at the behest of Evalyn McLean), the prisoner grimly commented: Dot handwriting vaz the worstest ting against me!
40. Is it possible at this late date to determine if the kidnapper intended to kill the child the same evening, or keep him alive for an eventual ransom exchange? After all, the broken ladder suggests the child died by accident - and even Wilentz thought this initially.
Ans: Hauptmann supporters frequently point to this logic as a defense - if the child had not "died in the fall," what was BRH going to do with him during the negotiations? There is no more nagging question than this, and every "explanation" for that evening's events remains problematic - no matter "who" did it. If the child's death was planned - to simplify matters and prevent an outcry in the Nursery - then the 2 rail splits were fortuitous (although there were reports that the skull fractures exceeded the mere drop of a burlap bag). The hasty departure from the Hopewell house may have been triggered more by the fear of discovery (due to the noise) than from the death itself. The objective would have been to "separate" the child from the kidnapper as soon as possible. The lack of a real burial implies no shovel was brought - so even if the ladder hadn't broken, the child could have been cast into a river, as in the earlier, and similar, Coughlin Case (where the child was never found). On the other hand, there is some indication that Hauptmann had tried to rent an apartment in downtown Manhattan in the Spring of 1932 - a rental application was found requesting "1 or 2 rooms by March 1st." Of course, his own name did not appear on the form - only an unidentified "Mr. Lynch and Mr. Jones." However, the previous residence given there for both men was not correct - "102 W 79th Street." Oddly enough, these "two men" were probably real, but they actually lived on East 127th Street (and were black)! Since most of the proceeds of the ransom could be traced to Hauptmann's stock activity, material purchases, and remaining garage stash, it is unlikely that he shared the money with accomplices. So, the names may simply have been "borrowed" without their consent - as the "Faulkner" address was utilized (see FAQ 6). Among the witnesses' Statements, taken in late 1934, are indications by Fred Hahn and Hans Kloppenburg that BRH had a new place - somewhere around W. 18th Street. Both assumed he used it as a "get well" location for a 1932 leg injury. It was also suggested that Anna H. was visiting relatives in Kingston (NY or Canada?) at the time. Considering that the crime was probably motivated by more than money, the author of this webpage believes that Dr. Dudley Shoenfeld's original interpretation was correct - the death of the child was likely from the start - and the apartment may have been a projected "back up" - if so, then Margaret Baker, the common-law wife of the superintendent of the Plymouth Apts. may have been initially involved in some way - but she apparently disappeared in 1934 and was not much heard from again. The suicide of Giessler-employee George Mass on April 1, 1932 may have been more than coincidental (only Joyce Milton claims he worked at the apt. building). All of this, of course, remains highly speculative and makes the case endlessly debatable.
For the latest in my research on the Leo Frank/Mary Phagan case of 1913-1915 (Atlanta), please visit:
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