#ContactForm1 { display: none ! important; }

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Trial of the Century 3: March 1, 1932

ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʜɪʀᴅ ᴘᴏsᴛ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪɴᴅʙᴇʀɢʜ ᴛʀɪᴀʟ sᴇʀɪᴇs.

ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛʟʏ ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜɪɴɢ: ɪᴛᴇᴍs ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀʀᴇ ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛʟʏ ʙᴇɪɴɢ ʀᴇsᴇᴀʀᴄʜᴇᴅ ᴍᴀʏ ʙᴇ ᴜᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴀs ᴛɪᴍᴇ ɢᴏᴇs ᴏɴ.

Where were you on the evening of
March 1st, 1932?

On March 1, 1932, the Lindbergh household contained: 

Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh Sr.
Mrs. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, his wife
Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., their son
Mr. Oliver Whately, manservant
Mrs. Elsie Whately, housekeeper/cook
Miss Betty Gow, nursemaid

Testimony of Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne Lindbergh arriving at court.
  Leslie Jones Photography.

Anne spent the day at home in Hunterdon with the baby. She had taken a walk in the afternoon, after which, upon returning, she threw a pebble up to the baby’s window, and Betty Gow held the baby up to wave hello to his mother.

At approximately 6:15pm, Anne was in the baby’s room while he had his dinner at a maple table towards the center of the room. She stayed in the nursery until the baby was put to bed. He was given medicine and rubbed with Vick’s Vapo-rub for a slight cold he’d had the past few days, dressed, and put in bed at around 7:30pm.

The baby was wearing a homemade shirt Miss Gow had made for him out of a flannel petticoat, on top of that a larger sleeveless shirt, and on top of that a wool “sleeping suit.” The baby may have had on a "thumb guard," used at the time to prevent infants from sucking their thumb. Anne could not remember specifically if he was wearing it that night.

Col. Lindbergh was not home yet, at 7:30pm, when Anne left the nursery. She sat at a desk in the living room; what she was doing at the desk is not mentioned. She was there until approximately 8:25pm, when she heard Charles honk the horn of his car. He came inside and they had dinner, finishing at around 9pm, then sat in the living room by the fire shortly. The couple went upstairs to their bedroom and talked for around 15 or 20 minutes. Charles drew a bath and bathed and then went down to the library while Anne got ready for bed.

Anne rang for Mrs. Wheatley and asked her to bring a “hot lemonade” - she’d caught the cold from the baby, and this drink was just hot water with some lemons in it. After Mrs. Wheatley left to fix Anne’s drink, Miss Gow ran into Anne’s room asking if Anne had the baby. Anne sent her downstairs to speak to Charles and went into the baby’s room shortly after 10pm. She found the room empty, and went back to her bedroom, where she met Charles and Miss Gow. Charles got a rifle from the closet and they returned to the baby’s room and searched it. Anne then retreated to her bedroom with Mrs. Wheatley and got dressed and returned to search the house.

Anne was not subjected to a cross-examination.

Testimony of Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr.

Lindbergh on the witness stand in the Flemington Courthouse.
On March 1st, Charles had spent the day in New York, and arrived home at around 8:25pm. After parking, he joined his wife in the dining room, had dinner, and finished dinner at around 9pm. They left to the living room, where they sat on a sofa and talked for 10-15min.

Q.: Well, some time during that night did you hear some sort of a noise or a crash? 
A.: Yes, I did. 
Q.: About what time was it and where were you? 
A.: Sitting on the softa in the livign room during the ten or fiteen minutes after we had come into the livign room from the dining room.  At that time I haered a sound which seemd to me, at the time, the impression that entered my mind at the time vaguely was that it was like the top of -- well, say, an orange box, the top slats of an orange box falling off a chair, which I assumed to be in the kitchen. 
Q.: That is, sort of like the falling of a crate, a wooden crate? 
A.: The slats of a crate. 
Q.: At any rate, what you felt was happening was that some pieces of wood, like the slats of a crate, had fallen in the kitchen? 
A.: That is correct.  I did not pay very much attention to it at the time, but enough to remark to my wife the words, "What is that?"  
Q.: Except for that, it went unnoticed? 
A.: Yes. 
Q.: About what time was that? 
A.: That would be about 9:10 or 9:15. 
Q.: Was it the sort of a noise that would come with the falling of a ladder? 
A.: Yes, it was, if the ladder was outside. 

The couple then went upstairs to the bedroom, where they continued their conversation. He took a bath, then left down to the library where he read for a bit.

The writing-desk where Lindbergh sat in the library was apparently underneath the window of the nursery, but Charles did not see anything (as far as the darkness would permit, during the time he was in the library).

Around 10pm, Miss Gow came to Lindbergh and asked “rather excitedly” if he had the baby. He did not, and ran up to the nursery to check:
as I entered the room, of course I at first and immediately looked at the crib. The bed clothing in the crib was in such condition that I felt it was impossible for the baby to have gotten out himself. I knew that neither my wife nor Miss Gow had taken him because Miss Gow had asked me if I had him and my wife was upstairs. The clothing was standing – the bed clothing was standing stiffly enough so that the opening where the baby had been was still there, the clothing had not collapsed.

At first glance Lindbergh did not notice the note; his attention was on the crib, and it was not until he returned to the room about 5 minutes later did he see it, "unopened" on the window sill. The window was closed; "The note was in an envelope on top of the grating which forms the window sill and through which heat comes from the radiator."

Lindbergh then got his Springfield rifle and told his manservant Mr. Wheatley to call the sheriff. As soon as he determined that the call had got through (he feared the lines may be cut), he called the NJ State Police and a friend and attorney, Colonel Beckenridge. He then went outside to look around.

At this point police arrived, and with their flashlights, soon discovered the ladder underneath the nursery window. They found the footprints and marks of the ladder underneath the nursery window. The note was not opened or touched until police arrived with proper equipment (i.e. to take fingerprints).

At this point it was nearing daybreak (I presume) and mention is made of several hundred of the press showing up, and there was considerable confusion due to all the press walking around.

Testimony of Bessie Mowat Gow

Betty (listed in court documents as "Bessie") pushes baby Charles in a stroller.
Screencap from movie footage, Corbis

Bessie usually stayed at Englewood while the Lindberghs went to Hopewell on the weekends. She was called at 11am on March 1st to help Mrs. Lindbergh, and arrived at Highfields at around 1pm.

Her testimony is lively and full of character, so I'll allow her to speak to you in her own words:

Betty Gow enters the Flemington Courthouse before testifying.

About quarter of six, I should say, the baby came running into the kitchen, ran around the table several times and spoke to Elsie. I took his hand then, took him upstairs for supper. I left him in his room for, oh, one minute, not as long as it took me to get his cereal from the kitchen. Came upstairs again; gave him his supper. He hadn't quite finished when Mrs. Lindbergh came into the nursery and she stayed with me while we got the baby ready for bed. We undressed him and just as he was about ready for bed I decided to give him some physic. In taking this he spilt some over his nightclothes.

...I undressed him again and decided that I would have time to make him a proper little flannel shirt to put on next his skin. I didn't have enough sewing materials there, so I asked Mrs. Lindbergh while I went out of the room to get some from Mrs. Whately, who I thought would have some. Went down to the kitchen where she gave me scissors, and said she would look for thread and bring it to me. I went back up to the nursery. Mrs. Lindbergh played with the baby while I cut this little shirt out. Mrs. Whately came into the room with the thread and I stitched it up very hurriedly and put it on the baby after having rubbed him with Vicks.

In addition to this, the baby wore diapers and some sort of rubber pants on top, a sleeping suit, and a thumb guard on each hand.

After the baby was finally ready for bed, Betty Gow testified,
I put him in his bed, Mrs. Lindbergh and I went around the windows, closed the shutters, we closed all the shutters tight except the one at the window, the southeast window; this one we couldn't quite close, it had evidently warped, so we closed it as best we could and left it that way.
The shutter was drawn against the window but unlocked.

Miss Gow left the room once at a half-past seven, but returned, and apparently at this time she pinned up the baby's bedclothes. This was the proper way to put the baby to bed at the time, as it would keep him warm and keep him from kicking off his blankets in the night. Miss Gow finally left the baby's room at 8pm exactly - she recalls looking at her watch.

She proceeded to the West Wing and had dinner with the Wheatleys. At around half past eight they heard Mr. Lindbergh’s car come in, and she spoke with him briefly as he made his way through the kitchen about how his son was doing. She stayed in the dining room for about a half hour and was with Mrs. Whately the entire time, and Mr. Whately came and went some.

She finally left the downstairs at around 9pm, during this time the dog had been with Miss Gow in the sitting room. Miss Gow and Mrs. Whately went upstairs to look at a new dress together. Miss Gow glanced at her watch and realized it was nearly 10pm and went to check on the baby:

I didn't put any light up but let the door of the room open so that the light from the hall would come in. I crossed to the French window and closed it, plugged in the electric heater and stood for about one minute waiting for the room to lose its chill. I then crossed to the cot and bent over with my hands on the rail and discovered I couldn't hear the baby breathe. I bent down, felt all over him and discovered he wasn't there. I thought that Mrs. Lindbergh may have him. I went out of the baby's room into the hallway and into Mrs. Lindbergh's room. I met her or saw her coming out of the bathroom and asked her if she had the baby. She looked surprised and said no, she didn't. I said, "Well, where is the Colonel, he may have him."

I said, "Where is he?"

She said, "Downstairs in the library."

I turned quickly and ran downstairs to the library where I saw the Colonel sitting at his desk reading. I said, "Colonel, do you have the baby?"

He said, "No. Isn't he in his crib?"

I said, "No."

He ran past me upstairs and into the baby's room. I followed him and from there entered Mrs. Lindbergh's room. He didn't say anything. He ran into his closet, came out again with a rifle and all three of us went into the baby's room. He said, "Anne, they have stolen our baby."
Mr. Lindbergh sent Betty Gow downstairs to fetch Mr. Whately, who went up to the Colonel, then the two went downstairs to phone for help while the three women proceeded to search the house high and low for the baby. Betty recalled seeing Lindbergh run outside with his rifle.

After the officers arrived, Anne, Miss Gow and Mrs. Whately sat in the sitting room in silence, until Mrs. Lindbergh’s friends arrived. This was Mrs. Breckenridge, as well as some other of Mrs. Lindbergh's friends from New York; they arrived in about an hour.

Miss Gow was summoned back into the nursery "to secure a knife" (this isn't fully explained, but it sounds like to open the envelope with), where she noticed a smudge of “a brownish muddy color” on the child’s bedclothes. Apart from the envelope on the windowsill, she did not notice anything else amiss in the child's room.

Another mention of the media circus is made, and then, about a month after the kidnapping, Miss Gow recovered the child’s thumb guard.
I believe it was May 12th – Oh, no, it was not – about one month after the baby was stolen. 
Q.: That would be somewhere in the neighborhood of April the first? 
A.: It would be. 
Q.: And would you tell us about it, please, how you happened to find it? 
A.: It would be in the afternoon after lunch, Mrs. Whately and I were in the habit of taking walks down the driveway. 
Q. On the premises? 
A. On the premises. We walked down to the gate where the police were stationed, talked to them for a little while and on the way back I should say about one hundred yards from the gate we both noticed this object on the road. I recognized it immediately and picked it up. 
Q.: Who picked it up? 
A.: I did; went right up to the house, found Colonel Lindbergh, and gave it to him, and told him how I had found it. 
Q. Was it then in the same condition as it is today in this courtroom? 
A.: Exactly the same condition. 
Q.: Still knotted? 
A. Still knotted.

Betty Gow leaves court after a grueling cross-examination.  
The breathless caption to this photo claims she collapsed after it was taken.

Testimony of Elsie Whateley

Elsie's testimony sort of ties it all together, so I will let her speak to us in our own words as well. 

Elsie Whateley and Betty Gow in court.
Dubious source; images of Mrs. Whateley are difficult to come by.

Well, in the afternoon, if you want to know, I went up into the nursery about four o'clock and we played with the baby and Mrs. Lindbergh came up and we all played with the baby.  ABout 4:30 I went downstairs and got some tea.  Mrs. Lindbergh came down and then Betty came down and brought the baby.  The baby went in to Mrs. Lindbergh and stayed with her while we had our tea in the sitting room.  Then the baby came in the kitchen and said, "Hello Elsie," and I talked to him and played with him and Betty came in and took him upstairs and that is the last I saw of him. 
Q.: What did the baby call you?  
A.: Elsie. 
Q.: That is your name? 
A.: Yes. 
Q.: Now, was the child a playful child?   
A.: Yes, lovely. 
Q.: Normal?  
A.: Yes. 
Q.: Ordinarily healthy except for slight cold? 
A.: Yes. 
Mr. Reilly: Oh, I object to this.  That has already been testified to by the father and the mother; it is only a repetition.  
The Court: You make no question about the health of the child? 
Mr. Reilly: It is leading and it is merely suggestive and sympathetic.  
Mr. Wilents: If counsel makes no question about it I shall be delighted to refrain from asking about it.

But Charles Jr. did have a slight cold.

Well, when Bety came down as near as I can tell you it was about a quarter of eight and the Colonel hadn't come; so my husband said that he woudl have his supper first and get it over befopre the Colonel came.  So he went in and he had supper while I was preparign theirs... Then I came out and Betty and I decided to have our supper.  While we were eating the Colonel came and I got up to attend to them and the Colonel- 
Q.: About what time was that, Mrs. Whateley? 
A.: Twenty minutes past eight.  The Colonel came in and he went through to Mrs. Lindbergh.  ABout five minutes afterwards they came down and they came into the kitchen and they stood talking to my husband and myself a few minutes. 
Q.: The Colonel and Mrs. Lindbergh? 
A.: Yes. 
Q.: Came in to the kitchen to talk to your husband? 
A.: Just to speak to us just for a little while.  Then they went in and had dinner.  We served the dinner, and Betty was still in our sitting room, she was reading; and then we cleared things up, about nine o'clock Betty and I went upstairs; I wanted to show her something. 
Q.: What was it you wanted to show her? 
A.: Well, I had bought a costume and I wanted her to see it. 
Q.: A dress, you mean? 
A.: Yes. [This was for a masquerade of some kind.] 
Q.: And you went up to your room then? 
A.: Yes.  And Mr. Whateley went into our sitting room; he said he would read and then he went in there and he sat reading.  We stayed in my room, and we had been there a long time, and Betty looked at her watch and she said, "It's ten o'clock, I must go to the baby." 
....Q.: So... you were with Miss Gow pretty nearly every minute from about a quarter to eight, when she came down from the nursery? 
A.: I was. 
Q.: Until about ten o'clock when she said she was going back to the baby's room? 
A.: Yes, sir. 
Q.: Except for very short intervals, your husband was in your presence?  
A.: Yes, he was.   

During the time between the recovery of the corpse and the trial, 
Miss Gow (L) and Mrs. Whateley (R) returned to Scotland and England, respectively.
We see them here returning to the US to testify,
heavily guarded, on the SS Aquitania.Historic Images, Ebay.  
....Q.: Now, about ten o'clock when Miss Gow left you, did you leave the room too? 
A.: Yes, I went along to Mrs. Lindbergh's room. 
Q.: What happened there? 
A.: Well, I spoke to her.  Do you want me to tell you what happened? 
Q.: Yes, please. 
A; Well, she had a slight cold and she asked me if I would get her some lemon water and take it up to her.  So I came out of the bedroom and, as I came out, I met Betty and she asked me if Mrs. Lindbergh was in there and I said yes. 
And she said, "I wonder if she wants to see the baby.   I am just going in."   
And I said, "Well," I said, "if she wants to, she is going through the other way, because she has gone through that door."  
So I went downstairs and Betty went back into the baby's nursery.  And I went downstairs and I told Mr. Whateley what I was going to do.  And he got up and he put the kettle on, and I got a lemon out... and just as I was cutting the lemon through, Betty came down... and asked Mr. Whateley if he would go up to Colonel Lindbergh, he wanted him, as the baby had gone. 
Q.: What is that?  I don't understand you.  [Remember, the courtroom was very loud.] 
A.: Betty came down and she asked Mr. Whateley if he would go up to the Colonel, as thet baby had gone and he wanted him.  So he went upstairs and I asked Betty what she meant, and she said, "Why, Elsie, the baby is gone."   
And I left her and went up and saw Colonel Lindbergh and my husband standing at the top of the stairs, and I said to the Colonel, "Where is Mrs. Lindbergh?"  
And he said, "In there," he pointed ot the baby's nursery.  And I went in and she was standing by the crib, and I stood by her.  
Q.: When Betty Gow said to you the baby was gone, in what tone of voice or manner of voice was it that she indicated it to you? 
A.: Well, she was terribly upset, of course. 
The Court: What was that? I didn't understand. 
Q.: Terribly what? 
A.: I say she was terribly upset. 
Q.: Then of course - By the way, you came down finally, I suppose, all of you.  What did the women of the household do thereafter? 
A.: Well, Mrs. Lindbergh and I went into her room and I asked her to get dressed and I helped her to dress, and then Mrs. Lindbergh and I started to search the house and the Colonel and my husband went outside and searched around there.  Then finally we came down and went into the living room and sat there... we didn't do anything, we simply sat.... 
Q.: Did you talk? 
A.: Not much. 
Q.: Quite silent? 
A.: Yes. 
Q.: Tell us something about it, you see you were there, you will have to help us.  
A.: Well, she didn't say anything in the living room.  As I was going around with her, she said, "Oh, God."  
The Whateleys and Miss Gow retired at around 4am, but Mrs. Lindbergh stayed up all night.
Q.: ...by the way, some mention or reference was made to a dog in the house.  Was there a dog in the house that night? 
A.: Yes, there was. 
Q.: What sort of a dog was it? 
A.: A terrier, an English terrier. 
Q.: An English terrier.  Was he a barking dog or a quiet dog? 
A.: Well, I always thought he was sharp, if he heard a noise, he would bark, as a rule, but the wind was so bad that night you couldn't hear anything. 
Mr. Reilly: I move to strike that out.  It is calling for her conclusion. 
The Court: The answer seems not to be responsive. Mr. Wilents may reframe his question. 
Q (Mr. Wilents).: Did the dog bark that night between the hours of 7:30 and 10 o'clock? 

A.: No, he did not. 
Q.: What was the condition of the weather? 
A.: It was very, very windy. 
Q.: Was it so windy that you could hear the wind? 
A.: Yes, you could. 
Q.: Do you know in what room the dog was during those hours between half past seven and ten o'clock? 
A.: Yes, he was in our sitting room in his basket. 
Q.: When you are talking about your sitting room, you are still referring to the dining room adjoining the kitchen? 
A.: I am, yes. 
Q.: And downstairs? 
A.: Yes, sir. 
Q.: That is, the nursery being upstairs? 
A.: Yes. 
...Q.: I think Colonel Lindbergh told us, Madam, that your husband died in May, 1933? 
A.: Yes. 
Q.: What was the cause of his death, if you know? 
A.: It was peritonitis.

Betty Gow, left, and Oliver Whateley, the Lindbergh's butler.

No comments:

Post a Comment