In what was dubbed—you guessed it—the “Trial of the Century,” the prosecution’s case against Bruno Richard Hauptmann, accused in the kidnapping and murder of infant Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr, three years after the crime allegedly occurred.
20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr.—son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh–was abducted from his home in Highfields, New Jersey, on March 1, 1932. The elder Lindbergh discovered a ransom note on the windowsill, the first of many in what would become a wild—and fruitless—goose chase.
The search for the baby was ultimately unsuccessful, and to the country’s shock, the body of Charles Lindbergh Jr. was discovered on May 12, 1932, half-buried and partially-decomposed. A coroner established that the baby had died about two months earlier, suggesting that the baby was killed about a week after he was kidnapped.
The first day of the much-anticipated trial focused on jury selection, those selected including a merchant, two farmers, four housewives, a laborer, an insurance salesman and a camp education advisor. The full jury—consisting of eight men and four women—was photographed with Sheriff John H. Curtiss on the courthouse steps during lunch recess on January 3, 1935.
The second day began with defense council Edward J. Reilly’s motion for a mistrial, on grounds that the Attorney General’s opening statement was impassioned and designed to prejudice the jury. The motion was denied.
Anne Lindbergh took the stand to testify against Hauptmann, who was facing the possibility of a death sentence. Mrs. Lindbergh identified clothes worn by the baby on the night of the kidnapping.
The baby’s father, American hero Charles A. Lindbergh, also took the stand. He identified an architect’s map of his home in Hopewell, N.J. that showed the room from which Bruno Richard Hauptmann was accused of kidnapping Charles Lindbergh Jr. three years prior.
Men and women eagerly sought to glimpse some of the notables attending the trial of the man who’s named as the kidnap-killer of the Lindbergh baby. Mrs. Lindbergh was captured—looking quite understandably miserable—passing the battery of camera men lying wait for her as she walked through the courthouse corridor.
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