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Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped From Home of Parents on Farm Near Princeton; Taken From His Crib; Wide Search On
March 2, 1932
Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., 20-month-old son of Colonel and Mrs. Charles A. Lindbergh, was kidnapped between 8:30 and 10 o'clock last night from his crib in the nursery on the second floor of his parents' home at Hopewell, near Princeton, N.J.
Apparently the kidnapping was carried out either while Colonel and Mrs. Lindbergh were at dinner, or soon afterward. The baby's nurse, Miss Betty Gow, visited the nursery about 8:30 o'clock and found everything in order there. When she returned at 10 o'clock, however, the crib was empty.
Muddy footprints that trailed across the floor from the crib to an open window bore mute testimony as to how the baby had disappeared. Miss Gow dashed downstairs. "The baby's been kidnapped!" she shouted. Colonel Lindbergh raced to the nursery, followed closely by his wife. Mrs. Lindbergh recalled that earlier in the day she had tried to fasten a screen on the window that had been opened and had been unable to do so.
Satisfied that there was no mistake and that the baby actually was gone, Colonel Lindbergh telephoned Chief of Police Charles Williamson at Hopewell. Williamson drove to the house accompanied by another officer. Outside the door they met the Colonel. He was bareheaded, and wearing an old black leather jacket such as he frequently wears on his flights.
Footprints Under Window
Briefly he told Williamson what had occurred. The chief telephoned first to State Police Headquarters at Trenton. Then he, his fellow officer and the Colonel began searching the grounds. Beneath the nursery window were marks where a ladder had stood and the footprints of one person. There were no shoe prints. The kidnapper, apparently, had worn socks or moccasins.
Sixty feet away in rocky ground at the edge of a wood the Colonel and Chief Williamson found a makeshift ladder. Its rungs were caked with mud. Colonel Lindbergh could not say whether it belonged on the premises. He thought it might have been left there by the builders while the house was being constructed during his flight to the Orient last Summer with Mrs. Lindbergh.
The searchers had no difficulty in following the footprints across the muddy ground. A second set of tracks joined them near the edge of the woods. They were much smaller. The two officers thought they might be those of a woman.
The search was interrupted by the arrival of a detachment of State Troopers sent from the barracks at Lambertville and the hunt began anew. The tracks were followed to the main highway, about half a mile from the house, where they disappeared. The kidnappers evidently had entered an automobile at that point.
Lindbergh Aids Search
Carrying a flashlight, Colonel Lindbergh stayed with the searching party until long after midnight. Once or twice he returned to the house, but he declined to discuss the kidnapping with newspapermen. Instead, he referred them to Major Schoeffel of the State Police, who told the story in detail.
"I hope you boys will excuse me," Colonel Lindbergh explained to the reporters, "but I would rather the State Police answered all questions. I am sure you understand how I feel." Mrs. Lindbergh, though greatly shocked by the baby's disappearance, was reported to be bearing up as well as could be expected.
Within a few minutes after word of the kidnapping reached State Police Headquarters at Trenton, all available troopers were ordered out to search automobiles along the highways and an alarm was flashed over the police teletype system in New Jersey and adjacent States.
Guards were posted along all main arteries of traffic leading from New Jersey into New York and Pennsylvania. City and county police cooperated with State troopers in searching all automobiles leaving the State, as well as cars on highways for miles around the Lindbergh home.
The unusual excitement in the vicinity of the Lindbergh home spread rapidly through the neighborhood. When news got abroad that the Lindbergh baby had been kidnapped George Jennings, a laborer, drove to police headquarters in Princeton and told the police how two men in a dark sedan bearing a New York license had stopped him in Washington Road, Princeton, yesterday afternoon and inquired the way to the Lindbergh home. An alarm for the car was sent out over the teletype.
The Philadelphia police were also called into the hunt. New Jersey State troopers requested them to question a man living in Philadelphia. When detectives called at his home, however, they were advised by relatives that he had not been there for two or three days. Asked regarding his whereabouts, the relatives are said to have replied that he was in "a small town near Philadelphia." They explained, too, that the man's absence was nothing unusual since his business often kept him away for several days at a time.
When word reached New York, Police Commissioner Mulrooney, who was at home in bed, was notified. He hurried to Police Headquarters to take personal charge of the hunt here. He ordered special guards posted at once at the entrance to the Holland Tube and the George Washington Memorial Bridge, as well as at all ferry terminals. He also mustered all available Police Department cars and sent them out with orders to search automobiles whose occupants looked suspicious.
Meanwhile the Lindberghs had notified Mrs. Dwight W. Morrow, mother of Mrs. Lindbergh, at her home in Englewood, N.J., and Mrs. Evangeline L. Lindbergh, Colonel Lindbergh's mother, at her home in Grosse Pointe, a suburb of Detroit.
Troopers Guard Home
Long after last midnight the Lindbergh home at Hopewell was ablaze with lights, while Colonel Lindbergh was kept busy discussing the kidnapping with officials of the State and county police. A trooper stood guard at the entrance of the lane which leads back from the highway to the house. Two more troopers guarded the entrance to the house, while at least a score of others were scattered over the vicinity hunting clues.
Report of a Ransom Note
The ladder was being carefully examined for fingerprints and the grounds searched for anything that might possibly serve to indicate the identity of the kidnappers. It was reported that a note demanding ransom had been left by the kidnappers in the nursery, but State police denied all knowledge of it.
Colonel Lindbergh agreed with the police that the persons responsible for the kidnapping had been well acquainted with the layout of the house. Neither he nor Mrs. Lindbergh nor any other of the occupants of the house had heard any sounds of prowlers, he said.
Major Schoffel announced that he would obtain from the contractor who built the Lindbergh home a list of every man employed there during the building, and that all of these men would be questioned today by police.