The bold kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., infant son of the noted aviator, remained as much a mystery last night as when the child's nurse first discovered he had been stolen from his crib in his parents' home near Hopewell, N. J., Tuesday evening.
Early today, however, a young woman's visit to Police Headquarters in Newark brought new hope to the weary searchers. She identified Rogues' Gallery photographs of three men, who, she said, asked her the way to the Lindbergh home last Friday in Pennington, a town not far from Hopewell.
This woman, identified only as a Miss Keating, a waitress in a Pennington restaurant, said she saw the men a second time Tuesday evening a short time before the child was kidnapped. She said the three men apparently were foreigners.
Ready to Pay Ransom
Colonel Lindbergh was reported as ready and anxious to pay the $50,000 ransom demanded by the kidnappers of his 20-month-old son in a note they left pinned to the windowsill through which they carried the child down a home-made ladder and spirited him away. He was powerless to act, however, because the note gave no instructions regarding methods of communication.
While he tramped the woodlands about his country home and raced hither and yon about the countryside in quest of a trace of the child, his wife, the former Anne Morrow, remained at home in the empty nursery, watching for his return. Her anxiety was increased by the knowledge that her baby was ill and in need of skilled and watchful care when he was stolen.
Helpless to aid in the search in which State Troopers, trappers and aviators joined, she did the only thing she could do, and appealed through the press and radio to the criminals, for humanity's sake, to heed a mother's instructions for the care of her infant. At her request the details of the child's special diet and feeding hours was broadcast over the land.
Confident of Son's Return
Despite the discouraging failure of the most intensive manhunt in the country's history to produce any definite clue to the baby's whereabouts, as far as was known, Colonel Lindbergh expressed confidence late in the afternoon that his son soon would be safe at home again. His prediction was made soon after he had asked more than 100 newspaper men, who had been using his garage as press headquarters all day, to leave his estate temporarily, ostensibly to relieve the strain on local telephone and telegraph facilities.
Late in the evening John P. Tuohy, secretary to Governor Moore, announced that the police were working on eight separate clues, of which at least one "sounds very promising." He refused, however, to give any hint of what the police had learned.
It was a crime that shocked the nation. At the White House it was the subject of a conference between President Hoover and Attorney General Mitchell. This conference was followed by orders to the members of every law-enforcing agency of the Federal Government to aid State and local authorities in solving the audacious crime.
It re-echoed in the halls of Congress and in the chambers of State Legislatures in demands that the laws be amended to make kidnapping a crime punishable by death. Prayers were offered in churches for the safe return of the missing child, and in Newark, where it was thought for a time the kidnappers had been cornered, a mob gathered in lynching mood.
Avalanche of "Clues"
The furore that swept the country as news of the crime spread over it brought in an avalanche of clues and "tips," most of which proved worthless. It seemed that every constable between Mexico and Canada spent the day searching automobiles at bridgeheads and ferries, and the number of women and babies who came under their suspicion was staggering.
From the mass of confusing detail that piled up, one fact stood forth clearly. That was that the kidnappers must have been familiar with the plan of the house and with Colonel Lindbergh's plans as well. Not only did they place a ladder against a window of the nursery which Mrs. Lindbergh had tried unsuccessfully to lock, but they chose a night for the crime which the aviator had announced he would spend in New York attending a New York University dinner. His attendance at the dinner had been widely advertised and it was only because he had his dates mixed up that Colonel Lindbergh happened to be at home.
In Albany Governor Roosevelt ordered Major John A. Warner, Superintendent of State Police, to place every facility at his command at the disposal of New Jersey authorities working on the case. In Trenton Governor A. Harry Moore and legislative leaders prepared to authorize the payment of rewards totaling $35,000 for the capture of the kidnappers, but deferred action at Colonel Lindbergh's request. He feared, it was said, that the offer of a reward might hamper efforts to establish communication with the criminals.
After conferring with the police officials of the metropolitan area Governor Moore designated Deputy Chief Frank E. Brex of Newark and Thomas J. Wolfe, Chief of Police of Jersey City, to cooperate with Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf, head of the State Troopers engaged in the search. The move was designed to establish better coordination between State and local police and to bring the crack detectives of the cities into action.
As the Governor's action was taken, the Provincial Police of Canada and the Texas Rangers joined in the search with Department of Justice operatives, postal inspectors, immigration and customs men, including prohibition agents, at the international borders. Even steamship sailings were watched.
Precautions were taken in the meantime to guard other members of the family. Mr. Lindbergh's mother-in-law, the widow of the late Senator Dwight W. Morrow, hurried to her daughter's side, and although another daughter, Elizabeth, accompanied her, her home in Englewood, N. J., was placed under the protection of a large police guard.
Constance Morrow, Mrs. Morrow's youngest daughter, who is a freshman at Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., was protected by two plainclothes men of the local police department, who accompanied her about the campus and watched the entrance to her dormitory. It was recalled that three years ago extortioners threatened her with death unless her family paid $50,000. On that occasion, Colonel Lindbergh took her in his airplane from the school to her mother's country home at North Haven, Me.
Meager Clues Are Studied
The police who swarmed up the steep and rocky road that leads to the Lindbergh home in its hilly fastness concentrated their efforts on the few clues the kidnappers left behind them. There was a rickety, home-made ladder which they searched for fingerprints, a chisel, apparently used to jimmy the nursery window, which was closed but not locked, and there were traces of footprints in the muddy road. Handwriting experts studied the ransom note, while detectives questioned Betty Gow, the baby's nurse, and Ollie Wheatley, the butler, and his wife.
These meager clues were augmented by tales of suspicious-looking cars mysteriously parked on lonely roads, of strangers, inquiring the way to the Lindbergh home and by endless theories offered by neighboring farmers thrown into the midst of a kidnapping mystery that for sensationalism has not been equaled since Charlie Ross was coaxed from a lawn in Germantown some sixty years ago.
Postcard Sent to Flier
Of all the clues the day brought forth, however, the most promising of all was that provided by the scrawl on a penny postcard, dropped in a letter box in Newark. The card was addressed in pencil to "Chas. Linberg, Princeton, N.J." In crudely printed characters it bore this message:
"Baby safe. Instructions later. Act accordingly."
There was no signature. The police, expecting the kidnappers would attempt to communicate with Colonel Lindbergh by mail, had asked the postal authorities to be on the watch for any suspicious-looking missive addressed to the aviator or his wife. Maurice Grady, a postal clerk, spotted the card on the sorting table and turned it over to Superintendent of Mails John Lonergan.
Superintendent Lonergan gave the card to the police at once. A detail of 150 policemen and more than fifty firemen were rushed at once to the district in which the card was mailed and began a house-to-house search for the kidnappers and the baby which was not without interesting results. As the search went on word spread through the section that the criminals had been cornered and a crowd gathered, mumbling menacing threats against the baby's captors.
"Dark Man" the Purchaser
It was soon learned that the postcard had been purchased by a "dark, soft-spoken man" from a postoffice substation and candy store at Plane Street and Central Avenue, Newark, a block from the spot where it was posted a few minutes after noon. Irving Ring, clerk in the substation and candy store, remembered the transaction because he said, he had had only two customers for postcards in the forenoon, and one was a woman he knew.
Subsequently it was learned that a man answering the description given by Ring had been seen only a block away from the postoffice substation at 1:30 P.M. Mrs. Annie Fischer of 89 Bleecker Street told detectives that a sedan containing three men and a woman who had a baby wrapped in a blanket stopped in front of her house about that time. The man got out and asked if she could rent a few rooms for light housekeeping, she said, and upon being told that she could not accommodate him, reentered the car and drove away.
Mrs. Fischer, who had not read the morning newspapers and did not know of the kidnapping, thought nothing of the incident until the police questioned her several hours afterward. She recalled the stranger, however, as "a smooth-spoken fellow," conservatively dressed in dark, unobtrusive clothing. He was short and stocky, she said, weighing perhaps 150 pounds. His hair was dark and he was smooth-shaven, according to both descriptions.
Crowds Swarm to Scene
The officials directing the search for the nation's most famous baby shifted their headquarters at night-fall from the Lindbergh home near Hopewell to Trenton. All through the day the roads leading to the Lindbergh country home were black with cars filled with sight-seers, who made the comings and goings of officials both hazardous and slow.
Above the house large passenger air-liners circled and banked so that the occupants could gaze from above at the house on a hilltop, its lawns dotted with hurrying blue-coated figures of the police and the less colorfully dressed newspaper men and photographers who swarmed to the scene.
The influx of the army that sent the news to London and Paris and other cities here and abroad, where it covered the front pages of newspapers, place too great a stain upon the local facilities for communication if not upon the hospitality of Colonel Lindbergh. He did his best to make them comfortable in the garage beneath his house.
Among the officials and unofficial observers Colonel Lindbergh came and went, his eyes red-rimmed from sleeplessness, his jaw set as it was when he climbed into the cockpit of his plane on the start of his flight to Paris. He had little to say to questioners. There was little that he could say.
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