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Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Trial of the Century 5: The Case Against Hauptmann and Other Tidbits

Tidbits and clarifications. Unless otherwise noted, this comes from Hauptmann’s Ladder by Richard T. Cahill, Jr.
On to it:
1) Origins of the rumors of Little Lindy’s supposed deformities.
The Lindberghs always strived to keep their private lives private - unsuccessfully. They were, understandably, very secretive about their first son, as they believed the constant media exposure wasn’t good for him.
Sadly, this secrecy led to rumors that little Charles was being kept from the public eye because he was deformed and the Lindberghs were embarrassed. Cahill testily notes, “It never occurred to the reporters that they were the real reason for the Lindberghs’ overprotectiveness of their child.”
At one point, the rumors were so out-of-control that Lindbergh called a press conference to address them, specifically denying five newspaper chains from attendance due to their publishing stories claiming his son was deformed. He chided the media for their constant coverage and asked that they back off.
The only “deformity” little Lindy had was overlapping toes on his right foot, which was used in the identification of the corpse. There is absolutely no evidence that there was anything else wrong with the child.
2. Lindbergh’s day before he arrived home.
“Charles spent the day in New York visiting the offices of Pan American Airways, Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc., and the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, as well as his dentist.” Cahill cites Kidnap by George Waller here. “Charles had been scheduled to appear at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as a guest of honor for a dinner held by NYU. Due to a scheduling error, Lindbergh failed to attend the dinner and came home instead. This innocent error has been used by authors of a tabloid-style book to support a theory that Lindbergh actually killed his own son…” referring to Ahlgren and Monier’s Crime of the Century: the Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax.
It seems that Charles’ day is quite well accounted-for.
3. The ladder
The ladder was actually quite ingeniously constructed. It was made of three pieces, the first two of which folded together on hinges, and the third was separate, to be connected via a wooden dowel pin, which was also left at the scene. The three pieces fit together perfectly (as I showed you in the pictures from the museum yesterday), so that it would fit in the back of a car. It was made of lightweight wood and weighed only 38lbs. The rungs were spaced so that there only exactly as many as were needed to climb the ladder, to make it lightweight. It was designed specifically for a certain person to use. However, the kidnapped underestimated the weight of the baby, and the ladder broke.
4. The kidnapper also left a chisel at the scene, probably to open locked shutters - but he didn’t wind up needing it, since the nursery shutters on the window he used were warped and would not close properly. It was a ¾ inch wood chisel. The same chisel was found missing from Hauptmann’s tools in his garage. While a ¾ inch metal chisel was found, that’s not the same thing - it has a different angle and is used for working with metal.
In total, he left behind the ladder, the wooden dowel to connect the two pieces, and the wood chisel. The thumb guard was left in the driveway of Highfields, probably when he ripped Charles' sleeping-suit off his body. At the scene of the baby's shallow grave, he left behind a burlap sack he had stuffed the baby into (traces of the baby's hair were found in the sack).
5. Hauptmann’s finances - there is no ransom money unaccounted for
From the testimony of William Frank, an investigator with the US Treasury Dept.:
On April 2, 1932, the day the ransom was paid, the Hauptmanns had $4,941.40 in total assets.
On September 19, 1934, the day Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested, they had $56,059.65. This includes all expenditures, income, and ransom money hidden in Bruno’s garage.
When you subtract $4,941.40 from that amount, as well as the known income the Hauptmanns received, you have $49,950.44 left unaccounted for - just .56 less than the ransom paid.
While Hauptmann did trade on the stock market, he lost more than he won, and actually lost $5,728.63 during that time period.
No ransom money was spent after Hauptmann was arrested.
6. Hauptmann’s employment records
Edward Morton testified about this, and entered the employment records of Reliance Property Management, the company that handled Majestic’s payroll, into evidence. Hauptmann started working for Majestic Apartments on March 21st - not March 1st, the day of the kidnapping - and finished on April 2, 1932, the day the ransom was paid.
7. Hauptmann’s alibi witnesses
This is a big one I had wanted to find out about.
From The Lindbergh Case by Jim Fisher
Anna claimed that Bruno had arrived at the bakery where she waitressed at 7pm on March 1st, and waited around until she finished her shift at 9:30, then drove back to their apartment. However, on cross, she was reminded that in October 1934, “when Insp. Henry Bruckman of the Bronx had asked her if she could recall what her husband had been doing on March 1, 1932, she said that she couldn’t remember what he was doing on that particular day.” Anna admitted that she had said that. Anna was also forced to admit that she could reach the top shelf of her closet where Bruno said he had placed the shoebox full of money, that she dusted and cleaned it, and had never seen the shoebox there.
The next witness was Elvert Carlstrom, who said he’d been in the bakery at 8:30pm on March 1st and had seen Hauptmann there. On cross, he was asked to describe Hauptmann. He tried to look at Hauptmann, and when his view was blocked, was unable to provide a description.
After a recess, he was asked what else he did that night. The witness eventually plead the 5th. The next day, prosecution returned with information that Carlston was a petty thief, bootlegger, and mentally unstable.
The next witness was another customer at the bakery, Louis Kiss, who said Hauptmann had come in that night accompanied by “a police dog,” which I’m assuming is a German shepherd or something. The Hauptmanns did walk a neighbor’s dog. He said he remembered the day because a week earlier his son had to go to the ER. However, that year had been a leap year so the timing was off. Cross discovered he was a bootlegger and a drunk.
The next witness gave his name as August Van Henke, who said he’d seen Hauptmann at a gas station near the bakery, and spoke with him as Hauptmann had “a police dog” and his dog, who looked similar, was missing. The dog was not his. Cross discovered that the witness went by two other names- August Wunstorf and August Markhenke - and the restaurant he owned was actually a speakeasy. He may also have run a brothel.
The next witness, Lou Harding, said he saw a blue car on March 1st in Trenton, which pulled up and asked for directions to the Lindbergh estate. He said he saw a ladder in the backseat. He said he reported the incident to Princeton police, who took him to Highfields, where he was questioned by two detectives and showed him the ladder which he identified as the one he saw.
On cross, he admitted to serving time in Rahway prison, and had also been convicted of assault and battery, and on another occasion, carnal abuse. He had also served two sentences for drunk-and-disorderly at the Mercer County Workhouse. The detective who he claimed questioned him had never worked on the Lindbergh case. He also couldn’t describe the ladder.
And that was it for Hauptmann’s alibi witnesses.
Bonus Round: Violet Sharp
This information comes from Their Fifteen Minutes by Mark Falzini. I found it very interesting and haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere.
“According to Emily, Violet Sharp’s sister, Violet told her on a couple of occasions that she had been married years before in London, when she was just 17 years old. She said his name was George Payne. When asked about this after Violet’s suicide he denied it and there was no record of the marriage ever found. Emily said it had only been mentioned ‘in passing’ and their mother, Lucy, first told her of it… Violet allegedly kept the marriage secret from their mother, ‘...until he was supposed to be dead. My mother said, ‘I don’t believe it’ to which Violet retorted, ‘Fine, it didn’t happen then!’’
“The alleged marriage came to light in 1929 when Violet applied for her passport. Her application was delayed because she needed to have letters of recommendation from her previous employers and some of them were addressed to Violet Payne…
“After her suicide, Scotland Yard was asked to investigate the alleged marriage, but they found no record of it at Somerset House in London. They did learn that although Violet said that he had died, George Payne was very much alive and living in London. They paid him a visit at his home…
“...He married Ellen Cone in 1896 and they had one daughter, Winifred Annie who was born shortly thereafter...
“George Payne was a printer’s stock keeper and in early 1927 he met Violet when they both worked for Mr. Pearce-Leigh in Gloucester Square, Paddington. Payne was employed as a butler and Violet as a parlor maid. They worked there for six months, until the Pearce-Leighs moved to a country home.
“George stated that he and Violet were never intimate; at most they went to the movies together. After leaving the Pearce-Leighs employ they never worked together again. Violet would write him and they would meet for walks whenever she got back to London. George set up an address for the letters… because he did not want them going to his home. “
Falzini speculates that Sharpe’s record of mental instability may have exacerbated the extent of the police questioning in her mind, making them seem more intense than they actually were. She did not make things any easier for herself by lying to police (more on this later). He wonders, “Was her close friendship with George Payne just that, a friendship but one magnified and distorted by Violet to the point that she actually believed they had been married? Why would she tell her employers that she was Mrs. Payne instead of Miss Sharp?”

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