On March 1, 1932, in what has become known as the “Crime of the Century,” the Lindbergh infant was abducted. The Lindberghs’ 20-month-old son, Charles Jr., was taken from their house in Hopewell, New Jersey. His parents were famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne. One of the most notorious criminal cases in U.S. history, this stunning and tragic occurrence captured the attention of the whole country.
The kidnapper initially asked for $50,000, then that was raised to $70,000. The Lindberghs cooperated with the conditions, but tragedy struck two months later on May 12, 1932, when the baby’s body was discovered not far from their home. A strike to the head was found to be the definitive cause of death.
Multiple law enforcement entities collaborated on the extended investigation into the kidnapping. Bruno Hauptmann, the prime suspect, was apprehended in September of 1934 after ransom money found in his possession had been marked. In 1936, after Hauptmann’s conviction, he was put to death via electrocution.
The kidnapping of the Lindbergh infant had a profound effect on American culture, culminating to the enactment of the Federal Kidnapping Act. The case also increased media attention on criminal prosecutions and prompted new forensic methods. Furthermore, it considerably influenced the future course of action taken by law enforcement in incidents involving missing children and increased public awareness of the necessity for child safety measures.