OPENING STATEMENT FOR THE PROSECUTION: NEW JERSEY vs BRUNO RICHARD HAUPTMANN




[NB: Numbers in brackets represent the page numbers of the original record on appeal.]

STATE vs. HAUPTMANN
Flemington, N. J., January 3, 1935.

SECOND DAY

Present:

Hon. Thomas W. Trenchard.

Appearances: Mr. Wilentz, Mr. Lanigan, Mr. Hauck, Mr. Peacock, Mr. Large, For the State.

Mr. Reilly, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Pope, Mr. Rosecrans, For the Defendant.

[1] MR. WILENTZ: May it please your Honor, Mr. Foreman, men and women of the jury: A Grand Jury that was composed of citizens of this County has returned an indictment charging that Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., was murdered. It is the law, men and women, as will be pointed out to you by the Court, that where the death of anyone ensues in the commission of a burglary, that killing is murder, murder in the first degree. It is also the law, as the Court will point out to you, that if a person in the murder is feloniously stricken in one county, that is, the blow is given in one county, but death ensues in another county, notwithstanding the fact that the death ensues in the other county, it is murder in this county if the felonious striking took place here, or if the death occurs here.

I just point that out to you, not that I expect it will have any particular effect, because we are going to prove that not only the striking but the death took place in Hunterdon County. Now, on the first day of March, 1932, the State will prove to you that a very distinguished citizen of this country was a resident of Hunterdon County and on that day the household, the Lindbergh household, consisted of Betty Gow, Mr. and Mrs. Whatley, Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, his wife, and their only and infant son, who was twenty months of age, I think it was, twenty months old or young.

The child was a happy, normal, jovial, delightful little tot that age, blue eyed, curly headed, blond haired. He had been playing around that entire day with the family, and on the night of March 1, 1932, that child was killed; and the State will prove to you jurors that the man who killed and murdered that child sits in this very court room—the gentleman in the custody of the Sheriff’s guards right in the rear of the distinguished [2] members of the Bar who make up the defense counsel.

This crime had been planned for some time. This defendant Hauptmann had conceived this plan and had undertaken it, had plotted it, prepared it, and we will show you that by the fact that he was in and about the vicinity of this Lindbergh home on many occasions before as well as at the time of the crime. He came there with his ladder, placed it against that house. He broke into and entered at night the Lindbergh home with the intent to commit a battery upon that child and with the intent to steal the child and its clothing. And he did. Not only with the intent, but he actually committed a battery upon the child and did steal it and did steal its clothing. I will refer to its clothing and its stealing a little while later.

Then as he went out that window and down that ladder of his, the ladder broke. He had more weight going down than he had when he was coming up. And down he went with this child. In the commission of that burglary, that child was instantaneously killed when it received that first blow. It received a horrible fracture, the dimensions of which when you hear about it will convince you that death was instantaneous.

Getting down there he took the ladder and about 70 feet away the load was too heavy. In the one hand he had the ladder and in the other he had this bundle, this dead package to him. The ladder was of no particular use to him. He abandoned that. Then he proceeded on his way until he had gotten about a half mile, the child dead. Knowing it was dead, he wasn’t a bit concerned about it and there, three thousand or more feet away and still on the Lindbergh estate, he yanked and ripped the sleeping garment of that child off its body.

[3] Though it was cold and raw, he yanked and ripped that sleeping garment off that child, because he didn’t need the child, as we will show you, he needed the sleeping garment. Then, of course, at the very first convenient spot, some few miles away, he scooped up a hastily improvised and shallow grave and put this child in face downwards and on he went on his way to complete the rest of his plans in this horrible criminal endeavor.

Well, pretty soon, about ten o’clock, the Lindberghs found out that their child was missing and you can, of course, imagine the excitement, you can imagine how hysterical some of the members must have been—and the first thing, as soon as Colonel Lindbergh heard about it, he immediately asked Whatley to call the police, and then he grabbed his rifle and went through the woods, and up and down the roads, while Mrs. Lindbergh and the rest of the family looked through closets, looked here and there, looked through places they knew the child would not be, but just looked, in the hope that springs eternal in the human breast; and then of course the world knew.

Of course, they didn’t know their child had been murdered. There was left a note in the room by the defendant, and that note indicated that the person responsible for this crime would get in touch with the Lindberghs again in a few days. And he did. He wrote ,Colonel Breckenridge and in a few days after crying to ‘Colonel Breckenridge, the world having become aroused, a very distinguished and aged educator and scholar and teacher in the Bronx, in a desire to serve society and in a desire to serve the Lindberghs inserted an advertisement in the Bronx Home News, and that advertisement Mr. Hauptmann answered. He said, [4] “We will take you Condon, we will take you as the intermediary.”

We will show you that this defendant Hauptmann personally delivered a note to a taxi driver and said, “Take this down to Condon’s home, down where Decatur Avenue is.” That note was not mailed, that note was delivered and delivered for a purpose, because in that note he gave Condon, I think it was three-quarters of an hour to get to the place to meet him. The aged gentleman went down there, to Woodlawn Cemetery and on the inside of the cemetery was Mr. Hauptmann, on the inside of the gates and Condon there on the outside until Hauptmann, becoming alarmed because somebody was coming somewhere in the distance, he scaled and climbed a nine or ten foot cemetery gate and then jumped down, ran across the street to a park there and finally, when he realized he wasn’t being followed by police, but only had this aged man to contend with, he stopped and there they talked.

They talked for an hour and ten or an hour and twenty minutes, and in that talk this defendant said, “Will I burn if the, child dies?” Oh, he tried to sell Condon the idea to give up Lindbergh’s money without seeing the child, and Condon had no authority.

The doctor said, “Please let me see the child; take me as a hostage; don’t worry, I can’t do anything to you. Just let me see the child so I can tell Mrs. Lindbergh I saw it. You can keep me there, until the money is paid, if you want to.”

“Oh,” he said, “Number One would smack me out; Number One would smack me out.” And so finally Hauptmann says, “Doesn’t Lindbergh know we are the people that kidnaped his child? Doesn’t he know we are the right people? Doesn’t he see the symbol on the note, the two circles with the big red circle in the center [5] and the holes? If he doesn’t, and that isn’t enough, we will send him the baby’s sleeping garment. We will send him the baby’s sleeping garment.”

And it took them two or three days to send it. I suppose he had to have it washed. And then within a few days, while Colonel Breckenridge was at the Condon home, he had been there every day since the day Condon received the first message, while Colonel Lindbergh was there, that sleeping garment came in the mail from Mr. Hauptmann, with his circles and with his holes, as positive proof that it was him. And then Hauptmann says, “Now, no more terms. The Lindberghs don’t see this child until they put up the money; and if you don’t take those terms we can wait. Lindy has got to come to us. We can wait; but if he waits until after April 8th the price is $100,000—it is $70,000 now.”

And so, finally, here at this Condon home in the Bronx—all of this thing taking place in the Bronx right alongside of Hauptmann’s back yard, waiting there, finally Jafsie answered for Colonel Lindbergh, “The money is ready, we accept. — We accept, the money is ready.” And so on Saturday, April 2nd, $50,000 prepared for Colonel Lindbergh was bundled into a box. Oh, I have got to tell you about that box.

Why, the carpenter put a picture of the box in his notes. He not only put a picture in it, he gave you the dimensions—six by seven by fourteen in his own handwriting. He told them how to bundle it up, he measured it, mind you, in his own imagination and there he put this picture, in this note, of this box with the dimensions. Why, he might just as well have put his picture in there. And so, they prepared a box, put the money in the bundle and then along came another [6] messenger on a Saturday night and said, within three-quarters of an hour you come here or you come there, and of course they did.

Well, you can imagine, you can imagine the condition of Colonel Lindbergh then. There he was about to get his child. He only needed the money, and he had that money to give up, it was all prepared. And so, he said, “I will go with you, Dr. Condon,” and Colonel Lindbergh drove that little automobile on that night with Condon to follow the directions to a green house and there they would turn over a stone and under that stone they would get further directions, and they did.

And Condon lifted up that stone or table or whatever it was and there it was, “Cross the street and go to Whittemore Avenue,” or something like that. He showed it to Colonel Lindbergh, and they did that. Right across the street he had picked out another cemetery for his next meeting place. And there was Condon in the middle of the road. Now don’t imagine that that particular section of the Bronx is any more populated than it is right here in Flemington, and particularly in the vicinity of the cemetery.

And there stood Condon waiting to see where Hauptmann was. Finally Hauptmann hollered, “Hey, Doctor, hey Doctor,” – twice. In the still of the night you could have heard it for two blocks and particularly in the vicinity of the Bronx. So finally Dr. Condon went down, followed him along, he on the inside of this St. Raymond’s Cemetery, Condon on the outside, until they got to a hedge.

And as they got down to that hedge Condon said, “Won’t you please let me see the baby first?”

“Now, no use about that.”

Well you know in 1932 times were awfully bad, [7] even for Colonel Lindbergh. $70,000 was a lot of money. He wanted $70,000 then.

“Won’t you please cut it down to $50,000? That is all we ask.”

The boss said, “Yes, I will cut it down to fifty.”

So Dr. Condon said to him, “Now here, after all it is just you and I. Now give me a receipt, give me the directions where we are going to find the child.”

He said, “All right, all right. You go back. Who is over there in the car with you?”

“Colonel Lindbergh.”

“Is he there?”

“Yes, Colonel Lindbergh is there. He has got the money.”

“You go back to Colonel Lindbergh and you get the money and we will meet here in five minutes and I will give you the directions.”

He wasn’t worried about being apprehended. He was relying upon the word of honor of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, that all he wanted was his child. Not only that but he actually had followed and traced Condon—we will prove it to you—to see that he wasn’t being accompanied by detectives. He knew he was taking no chances, that he wanted the child, that was all. So he went back somewhere and he wrote a little note and he came back. And there over that hedge he received that box with $50,000.

What do you think he said? “Wait a minute, doctor, until I see if it is all right. Wait a minute.” Then he dipped his hand into this box and up he looked at Condon and he said, “Your work is perfect.” Shakes hands with him. “Your work is perfect.” So within two hours in accordance with instructions given by Hauptmann they looked at [8] this note and the note directed them to go up to some place in Massachusetts, Bay Head, I think it was.

Colonel Lindbergh, Dr. Condon, Colonel Breckenridge, and a representative of the United States ‘Government got into a plane. And Lindy who could find a speck at the end of the earth couldn’t find his child because Hauptmann had murdered it. Up and around the waters he searched and returned. Up again in another plane he searched and he returned, and of course finally back home. Breckenridge still stayed at Condon’s home, still stayed there with Condon. Condon began in the papers to advertise for better instructions. But Mr. Hauptmann was no longer interested in Dr. Condon and no better instructions came.

Not only did Colonel Lindbergh with the men who accompanied him as I indicated a minute ago search for this mysterious and mythical boat but the Coast Guard of the United States went out too to try to find it. Of course it wasn’t there. When he took that $50,000 across the hedge of that cemetery he took it knowing that that baby was lying face down in that grave in New Jersey. We will prove that.

So back again to New Jersey for Colonel Lindbergh and to the home of sorrow. Then on May 12th, on May 12th, 1932, some colored gentleman, driving along the highway, got off the beaten path of the road and into a woods, to answer the call of nature—or whatever it was—and there he was horrified by the sight of what appeared to him to be the body of an infant; and of course he rushed away, but not until he had told somebody about it; and pretty soon, pretty soon, Colonel Lindbergh and Betty Gow and others had turned the body of that child up, face up. The moisture [9] in the ground had still preserved the face a little bit, so that it was white when it was turned up, and twenty minutes after the air struck it, it had turned black.

The body was horribly decomposed; one leg had been eaten away and carried away, one hand had been taken away, a great part of its body had been eaten away, the rest of it decomposed, the skin, the flesh, rotted away, in that hole, the grave that Hauptmann had placed for it. But there was that little sleeping shirt that Betty Gow had prepared and that Mrs. Lindbergh had helped her prepare that day; there was the forehead and the brown curls and the curly headed prominent forehead under the blond hair; there was that typical nose, and there were the toes overlapping, the overlapping toes of the Lindbergh child.

Anybody that knew that child, any member of the family, would know right away that was the “Little Eagle,” and so of course they took the child and cremated the body and the ashes were delivered to Colonel Lindbergh.

The Lord moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform, as you well know, and the first thing you know a little gas station attendant in the Bronx found the man that murdered the Lindbergh child. He came there with a ten-dollar bill, he had to get rid of the money. He came there with a ten dollar bill; it was a gold note, and the station attendant who was taking money all day long hadn’t seen much of that lately, because the President of the United States had called that gold in and it was against the law to have it and to hoard it. He said to Hauptmann, “What about this, where did you get this?” Oh, then, Hauptmann knew he was in for a little trouble. What do you think he said?

He said, “Oh, I have got a [10] hundred of those,” just nonchalantly, “Oh, I have a hundred of those.”

And off he drove. And so they finally arrested him. They arrested him, and what do you think he said when they found on his person another Lindbergh bill?

“Where did you get this?” they said.

Now, if he had gotten it honestly he would have told them right then. But what did he do? He said, “This is one of three hundred dollars that I have saved up, because I thought gold would be more valuable, and I got it from my friends and from the banks, and I had three hundred, but this is the last;” so they took him to his home and they started a search.

He knew they would not find it in his home. He had prepared for that. They took him to the police station and they pleaded with him and they talked to him. And then what? Carpenters dug up thirteen thousand some hundred dollars of United States money—Lindbergh money, ransom money. And he was confronted with that and he said, “Yes, I buried that away. “

“Where did you get it?”

“Why, a partner of mine, an associate of mine, a friend of mine, now dead, gave it to me.”

“Is that all that you have got?”

“Yes, that is all.”

And at that very minute, when he was again saying that that was all he had and that the story which he first told about the twenty dollar bill, when he admitted that that was untrue, and then he gave this story, at that very minute the police had more money, but he insisted that was all, and when he finished that statement, District Attorney Samuel Foley said to him, “How about this eight hundred and some dollars?”

And he said, “Yes, I didn’t tell you the truth; that is Lindbergh money too;” that is Lindbergh [11] money too.”

And there, right in the house, hidden on an inside closet wall in his own admitted handwriting, there was the address and telephone number of Dr. John F. Condon, in his baby’s closet, on the inside. A little closet; you would have to get in on the inside and be well, you would have to be the type of man of Hauptmann to get in there.

In his own handwriting, and he is asked, “Why did you write Condon’s name on there?”

“Why, you know, I had a funny habit, I liked to write telephone numbers or addresses.”

He didn’t have anything else in the whole house. And in that search, in that search we found the answer to the ladder. Now, one year about, before Hauptmann was arrested, one year before any of us knew that there was such a person in existence, the United States Government had traced to the Bronx Lumber Yard Company, or the Bronx Lumber Corporation, they had traced some of the lumber, they knew that ladder had been made of lumber, some parts of which came from the Bronx lumber yards.

When Hauptmann was arrested, what do you suppose we find? We find he worked at the Bronx lumber yards, he bought lumber there, but not only that, he has got this ladder right around his neck; he took part of that attic of his and built the ladder with it,-and we will prove that to you beyond any doubt. One rung of that ladder, one side of that ladder, comes right from his attic, put on there with his tools, and we will prove it to you, no matter how difficult it may sound, we will prove it to you so that there will be no doubt about it.

Now, of course, this is like most crimes. There has to be a motive for it, and you probably know it by this time. You can be sure [12] Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. did not attack Hauptmann; it was not in self-defense; it was not because of any provocation or anything that he had against Colonel Lindbergh. He committed this crime, he had planned it for months, because he wanted money—money. What do you suppose he wanted it for, money—lots of money he wanted, and he got it. And what do you suppose he did with it? He wanted that money so he could do as he did: live a life of luxury and ease so he would not have to work.

He quit his job the day he collected the $50,000, the very day; they had to replace him, so that he could do as he did: live a life of luxury and ease. So he could go to Florida, so he could have a boat on Hunter’s Island, and other places, so he could have a radio. In the midst of the worst depression of this land, in May 1932, he spends four hundred dollars for a radio. Not only that; so that he could as he did gamble and speculate with thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. Why, he poured money into these accounts. In July, 1933 alone what do you suppose this gentleman did? Forty-five hundred dollars in the account of Mrs. Schoenfeld or whatever her name is, the wife, the maiden name, the delightful wife of Mr. Hauptmann; forty-five hundred in the same month, two thousand more in cash in a savings account. That is besides this money found in the garage. He poured those moneys in there to satisfy his desire to gamble and speculate. Why, he used Lindy’s money to buy Sweepstake tickets with! What do you think of that?

Now men and women of the jury, if we do not prove these facts to you, why, you acquit him. You acquit him; if we do not prove them to you, you acquit him. But if we do, as we are confident we [13] will be able to, and as we expect to, let me just tell you, representing the State of New Jersey, that this State will not compromise with murder or murderers. We demand the penalty of murder in the first degree.

[Defense moves for a mistrial. Denied after extensive argument.]