New Twists on the Lindbergh Kidnapping: An Interview with Author Richard Cahill

Hauptmann's Ladder, a new book about the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Hauptmann’s Ladder, a new book about the Lindbergh kidnapping.

One of the most fascinating cases of the 20th century is the Lindbergh kidnapping. Eighty years later, experts still can’t agree if Bruno Richard Hauptmann was guilty of the kidnapping and death of Lindbergh’s son. And that confusion stems from the highly unusual nature of the evidence. The most damning was expert opinion about the ladder the kidnapper used to access the baby’s window: one piece of wood came from the flooring in Hauptmann’s attic.

Richard Cahill wrote Hauptmann's Ladder about the Lindberg Kidnapping.

Author Richard Cahill wrote a new book about the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Richard Cahill, a trial lawyer, recently published a landmark book about the Lindbergh case with Kent State University Press and kindly offered me an interview. In the course of his research, he went from believing in Hauptmann’s innocence to becoming convinced of his involvement. Hauptmann’s Ladder offers new evidence and a sharp legal analysis of the case.

Ann Marie: You took twenty years to research this book. That’s a significant portion of your life. Tell us why Lindbergh case fascinates you so much.

Richard Cahill: Researching the Lindbergh case was a hobby of mine for many years. Perplexed by books that reached totally different conclusions on the same evidence, I decided to find out for myself.

Where did you do your research?

There were numerous places I went to as part of my research. I went to the New Jersey State Police Museum and Archives on several occasions (usually for days at a time).  I also went to the New York City Municipal Archives, the original Courthouse where the trial took place, the original Lindbergh home, the homes of John Condon and Hauptmann, and various sites of relevance to the case.  I also went to several libraries.  However, the lion’s share of my time was spent in my own home reviewing all of the documents and exhibits I have collected over the years and reading my collection of pretty much every book ever written on the subject.

Your book contains critical pieces of evidence that aren’t in other Lindbergh books. Tell us about some of them.

Charles Lindberg testifies at the trial. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, public domain.

Charles Lindberg testifying at the trial. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, public domain.

My book is the first to discuss the “table top confession” as well as the lease document found in Hauptmann’s possessions.  Though mentioned in other articles or blogs about the case, no other book has ever referenced them.

Also, my conclusions about Captain Richard Oliver likely being the man seen at the cemetery by Charles Lindbergh is an absolute first. That has never been argued in any publication.

My book also is the first to reference in any detail the so-called Hauptmann look-a-like that the defense considered calling at the trial.

These are a few examples.

A man unrelated to the Lindbergh kidnapping found the “table top confession” in 1948 while repairing a table purchased eight years earlier. It is a German text written on a block of wood that was used to reinforce the table’s joint. The anonymous author claims he was the kidnapper, not Hauptmann. The block had five holes. Police declared it a fake but archived the block. In 2003, an archivist with the New Jersey State Police Museum and Archives discovered the five holes in the block aligned perfectly with the holes in the ransom notes that the kidnapper used as a signature. Richard Cahill will appear on my blog once more to discuss this unusual piece of evidence.

What was your biggest surprise in your research?

My biggest surprise?  Honestly, my biggest surprise was just how much evidence has been collected.  The archives contain more documents and evidence than one man could read in a year.

Wanted poster for the Lindbergh baby, public domain.

Wanted poster for the Lindbergh baby, public domain.

How did your experience as a trial lawyer help you investigate and analyze the evidence?

I think my experience as a lawyer played a substantial role in my investigation and writing.  For example, my knowledge of fingerprinting allowed me to conclude that the age old notion that the nursery was wiped clean was simply not true.  That had been almost accepted dogma of the case prior to my research.

Also, it allowed me insight into the trial tactics of both Wilentz and Reilly.  I think this allowed me to go beyond the trial transcript and give the readers a better play by play account.

Thanks, Richard, for sharing with us.

Guilty or innocent? Based on what you know about the case, what is your opinion of Bruno Richard Hauptmann?

Check out Richard Cahill’s book, Hauptmann’s Ladder, on Amazon.

Literature on point:

Richard T. Cahill, Hauptmann’s Ladder: A Step-by-Step Analysis of the Lindbergh Kidnapping (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2014).


  1. Jill Swenson
    Mar 19, 2015

    Fascinating material. Looking forward to more about the table top confession. Hauptman may have been involved, but was he the kidnapper?

    • Ann Marie
      Mar 19, 2015

      That is one of the big questions about this case, Jill. Just to what extent was he involved, if at all? The evidence in this case is SO unusual it’s still controversial 80 years later.

    • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
      Mar 21, 2015

      My conclusion is that he did commit the crime. I do leave open the possibility that he might have had an accomplice though the evidence is not sufficient to prove it definitively.

      • Charles Steenburgen
        Dec 31, 2019

        Read Scapegoat by Anthony Scaduto and watch Whodunit an HBO special from innocent man

      • Ann Marie
        Jan 4, 2020

        Thannks — I’ll check them out!

    • Roy Powell
      Jun 11, 2018

      About 25 years ago I purchased a storage locker in Mesa Arizona containing a box of information pertaining to this investigation. One of the original notes, a piece of leather off the chair and a piece of the ladder that was used were in the storage locker. I also have court sketches and pictures. I believe this file was part of the original case. If anyone is interested please call me at (602) 810-2179. Roy Powell

      • Ann Marie
        Jun 12, 2018

        How interesting, Roy, and thanks for commenting. I will pass your number on to the museum administrators at the New Jersey State Police, where they have an exhibit on the Lindbergh case. The people there will be in the best position to assess the provenance of the material you have in your possession. Who knows? Maybe you’ve discovered information that will augment our knowledge of the case.

      • Ann Marie
        Jun 12, 2018

        I just had contact with the archivist of the New Jersey State Police Museum, who informs me that the museum has the complete ladder and all 15 of the ransom notes. The burden is now on Roy Powell to prove his items are not a fraud. In the meantime, I’d encourage my readers to exercise caution in contacting Roy.

  2. Brian
    Mar 20, 2015

    Were there still fingerprints to be found all these years later?

    • Ann Marie
      Mar 20, 2015

      No. At least not useful ones. Several books maintain that the baby’s room was wiped clean of prints. That has caused some to assume an inside job or that there was more than one kidnapper. The first investigator on the scene found prints, but none were usuable, i.e. they were smudged. The room was never wiped cleam.

      A second finger print expert who later examined additional items with different techniques found hundreds more. Hauptmann’s fingerprints were not found on the ladder. But the kidnapper was probably wearing gloves. Seven unidentified prints were found on the later. Some say that alone points to Hauptmann’s innocence. But hundred of people had handled the ladder before the second expert lifted prints, so it’s hard to say.

      • Michael Melsky
        Apr 4, 2015

        I’d have to disagree with your response Ann Marie. When evaluating the fingerprint evidence one has to look at, and take into consideration, ALL of the available sources. Once this is done it’s important to consider the circumstances and/or variables which surround these differing sources all of which need to be considered then applied accordingly. For example, if the trial testimony differs from the earlier source material it would be important to know ‘why’ those differences exist. Fact is, by the time of the trial, the State was pursuing a specific narrative. This narrative needed certain facts to exist which did not exist in earlier sources. So what Researchers will see is that “no indication of prints” mutates into “no useful prints” or “smudges” by the time of the trial.

        Furthermore, when the prints on the ladder were discovered, some were later identified with those known to have handled it. Others were not. So since Hauptmann’s prints were not found among them we often hear his prints were either contaminated OR he wore gloves in order to explain it away. Both are possible, yet, why doesn’t anyone address the print which was found behind rung 11? This was never matched to Authorities, and could only have been made by someone assembling or disassembling the ladder.

      • Ann Marie
        Apr 5, 2015

        Michael, your point about the print on rung 11 is an excellent one. My main concern as a prosecutor (or investigator) would be whether all the law enforcement personnel who handled the ladder had been eliminated; there were so many. As Richard Cahill notes in his book (pp. 59-60), the ladder was handled by hundreds of people between March 1-13, including the police, wood experts, and the press. If all those people were eliminated, that remaining print could have been from an accomplice. But it also could have been from an innocent person who had handled the wood before the ladder was constructed, e.g. a lumberyard employee.

        At trial, Frank Kelly, the first investigator to dust for prints, testified that he found no “fingerprints of value.” Lindbergh testified that Kelly found smudges. Dr Hudson found additional prints in the nursery using a more sophisticated technique. Are you suggesting, in your first paragraph, that their trial testimony was tainted by the state’s prosecution theory? I’m not sure I understood your point.

        Thanks for commenting. What’s so amazing about this case is how unusual, murky, and controversial the evidence is, even after all these years. That’s one of the things that makes the Lindbergh investigation so fascinating.

    • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
      Mar 21, 2015

      The ladder and the nursery were checked for prints. Unfortunately, the initial person (Inv. Kelly) was not particularly skilled at it. Also, the prints on the ladder were compromised when the police had to move it prior to processing it because they failed to properly preserve the scene.

      • Michael Melsky
        Apr 5, 2015

        Hi Richard.

        What evidence in particular do you draw from to conclude Kelly was not skilled in checking for prints? I’ve often seen this argument used, yet, I never see an explanation as to exactly why he was raising prints using the exact same methods elsewhere in house.

        And to reply to Ann Marie’s question above (no reply button there) … I do agree with Richard that many people handled the ladder but that is a simple excuse for a complicated matter. There’s more information out there then most people realize so I think drawing a rock-solid conclusion based on the one someone happens to like is a huge mistake. And yes, what’s testified to at the trial by many of the Prosecution’s Witnesses was heavily influenced by the State’s theory. The proof is revealed once you compare testimony to earlier source documentation. And Kelly’s testimony isn’t the only place this happens which is why, again, the testimony must be cross-referenced and should only be accepted as one source when a myriad of other and earlier sources should be considered.

      • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
        Apr 5, 2015


        Kelly’s skill is in question and has been questioned by numerous authors and researchers.

        There mere fact that Dr. Erastus Mead Hudson found so many more prints than he did is but one piece of evidence. Kelly testified that he found no prints when he processed the ladder, yet Hudson found a large number of them.

        You and I have a substantial disagreement which I think permeates your entire statement on this blog.

        You have made clear to me your position on another Internet forum that the State Police properly maintained the crime scene. I respectfully, but vehemently disagree with that position.

        Reporters swarmed the crime scene to the point that the police had to move the ladder away from the position where it was found before it could even be photographed. Without use of gloves, they brought the ladder into the house even before it was processed for prints.

        I can tell you as a former prosecutor that that is a MAJOR problem in any investigation or prosecution. Potential fingerprints were compromised or destroyed. The scene was compromised. That is not a theory or mere opinion. That is an undeniable fact.

        The fingerprint evidence, especially on the ladder, was compromised and of little use.

        Some of the officers put in their initial reports and to some local media sources that they maintained the scene, but frankly they were just covering their behinds. Would they really tell the newspapers that they goofed up the scene?

        During trial and in later statements, they eventually admitted that they did not in fact maintain the scene. Some of Reilly’s best moments during the trial were when he destroyed police witnesses by pointing out their failure to maintain the scene, their failure to measure or photograph footprints, etc.

        Lt. Bornmann noted in his recorded interview years later that when he and DeGaetano came out of he Lindbergh home, the entire scene was swarming with reporters who were touching the kidnap ladder.

        It is neither logical nor correct to assert that the police maintained the crime scene. They did not.

        Finally, I have looked at a hell of a lot more than just the initial police reports and the trial testimony. I am 43 years old and have been researching this case since I was 18. Additionally, I am trained as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and civil litigator. I know what to look for in a criminal investigation and what constitutes a mistake.

        I approached this case without a dog in the fight, meaning I did not care if Hauptmann was guilty or innocent. I just wanted to find out the truth.

        The sources I chose to accept and the sources I chose to reject were based upon logic, common sense, and my years of training concerning criminal trials.

        There were always be aspects of the case that will remain a mystery. However, one thing about the case is not a mystery. The police bungled the crime scene.

  3. Wayne
    Mar 25, 2015

    I believe any new book that opens dialogue on the Lindbergh kidnapping case is a worthwhile endeavor.

    Having said that, I think it’s also extremely important to get the facts right and to give credit where credit is due.

    1) The “table top confession” was extensively explored in Lloyd Gardner’s exemplary The Case That Never Dies (2003), pages 413-414. There are even two photographs of the table on page 210.

    2) In 2002, Mark Falzini, archivist at the NJ State Police museum, was the first to line up the holes with the ransom notes. The table does have five holes, but only three holes in the table match the three holes in the ransom notes. Not “five holes” as claimed in the above interview. All of the ransom notes are available for viewing online.

    • Ann Marie
      Mar 25, 2015

      Thanks for pointing that out, Wayne. Lloyd Gardner should get the credit where credit is due. I discuss Mark Flazini in my post on the table confession.

    • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
      Mar 25, 2015


      Lloyd Gardner did reference the table top confession in his book. I should have written that my book was the first to explore this evidence in detail. The words I chose for this interview were not precise.

      But, to make the record crystal clear, Lloyd Gardner did mention the evidence first. However, I offered the first detailed analysis in a book including my conclusions on its veracity and importance to the case. (There are some newspaper articles, a documentary, and an article by Mark Falzini, the Archivist at the New Jersey State Police Archives.)

      • Wayne
        Mar 28, 2015


        Thanks for the clarification. I see on the Amazon review section that you did acknowledge and recognize Mr. Gardner’s The Case That Never Dies back on July 22, 2004 when you reviewed the book with one star saying “…no significant discussion on the “tabletop confession” …”

        Personally, I think he unraveled and covered the tabletop discussion very well in three pages, but I guess we are talking apples and oranges.

        Let me ask you this. I am 100% convinced that BRH built the 3-section ladder and he, of course, was found with almost 1/3 of the ransom money.

        I’m reading, and enjoying, your book…but I still can not understand how BRH could have possibly known that the Lindbergh baby was going to be in Highfields for the first time ever on a Tuesday night, how BRH could have known where the nursery was, that the window BRH entered was the only one in the room with a warped, unlatch-able shutter, and that Lindbergh had instituted an 8 to 10 pm lockdown on the nursery so that no one was allowed to enter then.

        Without those answers, I guess we are to assume that BRH was simply the luckiest criminal in history?

    • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
      Mar 26, 2015


      As to your second point, the table had five holes. The notes each had three. Mark compared the five holes to the three holes on one of the ransom notes and found a match.

      The three holes running vertically are equidistant to the holes running horizontally. Thus, if you compare the holes against the left, middle, and right hole, they match. If you do the same thing with the top, middle, and bottom hole, they match.

      • Ann Marie
        Mar 26, 2015

        The error about the number of holes was mine; I have since corrected that. Thanks for the discussion!

      • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
        Apr 10, 2015


        You ask excellent questions. There are some things in the case we will never know for sure. Your questions cover some of these types of things. I will offer some educated speculation, however.

        Since Hauptmann never confessed or discussed his role in the case (unless you accept one book that contends that Hauptmann confessed to a cell mate), we do not know what he knew.

        I can tell you this. The house was not completely finished. For example, there were few if any curtains. Anyone with a pair of field glasses could have watched the house from the nearby woods and been able to learn the location of the nursery window.

        For example, we know that Betty Gow held the baby up to look out the window to see his mother walking by outside earlier on the afternoon of 3/1/32. Anyone watching would likely conclude this was the nursery.

        Is this exactly what happened? I do not know. It is as good a theory as any.

        As to how he knew the Lindberghs were there, I tend to take a different tack on it because I am not certain he did know.

        Those of us who research the case know that the Lindberghs were not normally at the Sourland Estate on Tuesdays. However, the Lindberghs did not advertise this fact. The public did not know their weekly schedule.

        Newspapers reported about the Lindberghs moving in to their new home. I have not found one that contemporaneously advertised how frequently the Lindberghs were there. There could be some, but I have not seen them.

        I think it is very possible that it was merely an unfortunate coincidence that the Lindberghs were there that fateful Tuesday.

        When you examine true crime, you find so many tragic cases of people coincidentally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think that is what happened here.

        Could I be wrong? You bet. I think this is why this case is so continually fascinating. There are some areas of the crime that invite educated speculation. I tried to avoid that in my book which is why I do not go into great detail about possible accomplices, though I do discuss it. It is a lot of fun though to pontificate though.

        Thanks for the questions, Wayne.

  4. M Sudhakar
    Mar 25, 2015

    I have not read Cahill’s book, yet I know about Bolliard’s table. How? I read about it in Lloyd Gardner’s book, The Case That Never Dies. I hope Mr. Cahill will acknowledge his mistake in claiming that his book was the first to discuss the table and give credit where credit is due.

    • Ann Marie
      Mar 25, 2015

      Thanks for pointing that out, M Sudhakar. I’ll bring it to Mr. Cahill’s attention.

  5. Michael Melsky
    Apr 5, 2015


    I was just trying to understand your point. For me, other Researchers and/or Authors can say this all they want but I’d like to see the answer as to why Kelly was raising prints in the other rooms, and on other items, using the exact same methods (Black and Aluminum Powders) without any issue. I think that’s important because we have comparables to properly judge this statement.

    As you noted in your book, Dr. Hudson’s method using silver nitrate was new at the time. This worked on the ladder, not because Kelly didn’t know what he was doing but rather because of the method itself. Wouldn’t you agree? In fact, Dr. Hudson taught Kelly how to use this method and he took it from there once he did.

    Next, we do disagree about the crime scene – to a point. It was comprimised after a certain period of time and not before. I am certainly no Prosecutor, but I don’t think I need to be in order to read and rely on all available sources to come to this conclusion. For example, Reporters who were attempting to assist Hoffman during his reinvestigation certainly weren’t trying to cover the NJSP’s butt, so it’s important to take these sources then compare them against whatever exists.

    I think we’ll both agree that timing is everything here. So it seems to be a difference of opinion based upon the actual sources.

    We know, for example, Bornmann’s prints were on the ladder because they were later identified as his against those prints which were raised by Dr. Hudson’s silver nitrate solution. And while I agree that Bornmann’s 1983 interview is something to consider, I do not agree it holds the weight you are personally assigning it considering it involves his memories from 1932. I personally believe written reports from that decade are more reliable.

    Anyway, I think you have misunderstood my points and intent. And I also realize it’s hard to consider a source when or if one hasn’t seen it. I know the amount of time it takes to properly research this case and I respect the amount of time you’ve put into it. I did not intend to come here to debate because I don’t think this is the proper venue so this will be my last comment.

    • Ann Marie
      Apr 6, 2015

      Even though this is your last comment, Michael, thanks for posting. In a case as controversial as this one, agreement is impossible. But discussion is educational, and your points were helpful.

    • Richard T. Cahill Jr.
      Apr 10, 2015


      My comments concern your positions on the case that I disagree with.

      Please be clear that I have great respect for you and your contributions to the research of the case. Your discussion board offers great opportunities for people to ask questions and discuss the case.

      I can get very animated about this case. I am passionate about it. I try as much as possible, however, to maintain personal respect for people who offer positive theories and honestly research the case … like you.

      There are many people who just go on the attack and say nasty and derogatory things against people who do not hold lock step to their personal theory. (I am sure you have encountered these things too!!)

      Thanks for your comments and questions. I think it added to this web site discussion.

      And while I am at it, thank you Ann Marie for posting these 2 interviews and giving my book such a plug. I am indebted to you.

  6. Richard Sloan
    Apr 5, 2015

    I found this Lindbergh discussion very worthwhile. I’m a student of the case, but haven’t dabbled in it for a few years now. (I used to conduct bus tours of sites in the Bronx related to the case. I met Mr. Melsky once. He’s a brilliant student of the case. I have yet to find the time to read my copy of Mr. Cahill’s book, but I shall.) ) Funny thing — I went to your site because (and forgive me if I ever did a few years ago; I have a gut feeling I may have!) you posted on another blog about Lincoln assassination eyewitness Sam’l J. Seymour! I am a student of that case, too, and continue to dabble in that one. (I give a talk about Lincoln’s NYC funeral.) I am really writing to ask you if you ever heard from Mr. Seymour’s heirs when you posted that you’d like to write something at length about him. Keep up your good work here!

    • Ann Marie
      Apr 6, 2015

      Thanks for posting and for your compliment, Richard. No, I haven’t yet posted anything about Samuel Seymour yet, and the main reason why is that I haven’t found any photos yet that I’m convinced are in the public domain. My attempt to reach his descendant via that one history site has thus far proved fruitless. I haven’t given up, though. I’ve been too busy to search further (I got a book contract for my German assassination/Robert E. Lee story and have diverted most of my energies into writing that).

  7. Mickey
    May 5, 2015

    Did Arthur Koehler prove that the planer marks found on parts,of the ladder were indeed from Hauptmann’s planer found in his garage? If this is true together with the fact that rail 16 of the ladder was once a part of Hauptmann’s attic, I can’t see how he wasn’t involved. I have read several books on the case and found Richard’s to be the most thorough.

    • Ann Marie
      May 6, 2015

      That’s an excellent question, Mickey. I will check what literature I have and get back to you.

  8. Richard T. Cahill Jr.
    May 6, 2015


    Thanks for the kind words.

    Yes, he did. Hauptmann’s plane had a nick in the blade that left a distinct mark on the wood. Koehler demonstrated this at the trial.

  9. Kurt Tolksdorf
    Jul 4, 2015

    Why does every student of the case assume that because Rail 16 was cut from the attic above Hauptmann’s apartment, it must have been he who did the cutting? According to Mrs. Hauptmann, whom I interviewed in 1993, she and her husband were often absent from the apartment for hours at a time. Anyone having access to Hauptmann’s apartment — say, through the intervention of his landlord, Max Rauch — could have cut Rail 16 from the attic.

    This is just one instance in which a key inference leading to Hauptmann’s guilt can easily be shown to be flawed. The remaining evidentiary items are subject to similar counter-arguments.

    • Ann Marie
      Jul 19, 2015

      Sorry for the late answer, Kurt. I’ve been on vacation.

      It’s fascinating that you interviewed Mrs. Hauptmann. Have you published the results of the interview anywhere? Because that would be a intriguing read!

      You are right that it’s possible that someone other than the Hauptmanns snuck into their house and stole rail 16 from the attic. But I’m not convinced it’s likely. The standard for scientific proof is different from the burden of proof in American criminal procedure; i.e. something can still be scientifically possible (even if unlikely) and yet beyond a reasonable doubt. In my mind, the evidence that rail 16 originated from the Hauptmann’s attic, coupled with the fact that Condon’s phone number and address were written on the inside of his closet, that Hauptmann spent ransom money, and that ransom money was found hidden in his garage, eliminate any doubts that are reasonable. That all those things happened without Hauptmann being involved are just too unlikely for me to be reasonable. As a prosecutor, I’d have no compunctions about taking this case to a jury.

      Other people have other opinions, I know, and that is one of those things that makes this case so fascinating.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Kurt Tolksdorf
        Jul 22, 2015

        Why does every student of the case assume that because Condon’s address and telephone number were found written in the nursery room closet in Hauptmann’s apartment, it was he he wrote them there? Again, anyone having access to Hauptmann’s rooms — before or after his arrest — could’ve done the writing.

        Of course, when we take the fact that Rail 16 was cut from Hauptmann’s attic floor and put it alongside the closet writing, the natural tendency is to allow the two items to reinforce each other from an evidentiary standpoint. But this is, strictly speaking, a breach of logic; both Rail 16 and the closet writing could easily have been the work of a third party bent on framing Hauptmann.

        A similar argument applies to the so-called “discovery” of ransom money in Hauptmann’s garage. If, instead of paying the ransom to Hauptmann, Condon had handed it to a member of the [then-corrupt] New York Police Department, the latter could easily have planted a portion of it in Hauptmann’s garage thirty months later during their post-arrest “search.”

        To hold that easily-framed evidentiary items should be allowed to reinforce each other’s credibility — based on informal notions of “likelihood” — is only natural, but in the Lindbergh Case it facilitated the judicial murder of an innocent man and the concealment of the true perpetrators.

      • Ann Marie
        Jul 23, 2015

        Juries have to judge the liklihood of attorneys’ interpretations of the facts every day of the week. Although every explanation you offer is theoretically possible, each one is a stretch. Without more evidence pointing to Hauptmann being framed, it’s easy to imagine that jury members would find the framing interpretation beyond a reasonable doubt. For instance, without further evidence, I’d find it hard to believe that a police officer would put his career and reputation on the line by getting involved in the “Crime of the Century” as an accessory after the fact. For a less-publicized crime, maybe, but not for one that the whole nation was following. But, like I said, different people see the evidence differently, and that’s what makes this case so fascinating.

        Thanks for posting!

  10. Kurt Tolksdorf
    Jul 23, 2015

    Actually, I am not throwing these ideas out just to be flippant. In 1998 I had two interviews with a man who had been Condon’s associate in the Thirties. It was he who told me that Hauptmann had been framed, that Condon had passed the ransom money to a member of the NYPD, and that they, in turn, had planted it in Hauptmann’s garage during the post-arrest search. He also disclosed that his brother, a New York City policeman, was part of the detail that secured Hauptmann’s garage, and that he (the brother) witnessed the planting of the money.

    Why did he make the disclosure to me after all these years? He had had a serious stomach operation not long before I found him, and I assume that he was in the process of coming to terms with his own mortality. I told him that I knew Hauptmann was innocent and deserved to “have his soul cleansed of the shame of the crime.” Three weeks later he called me back for a second interview in which he described the frame-up and its motive.

    • Ann Marie
      Jul 23, 2015

      That is quite interesting, Kurt. Have you published the results of your interviews? Because they are publication-worthy. And that’s the kind of evidence that could change people’s minds about the case.

      • Kurt Tolksdorf
        Jul 23, 2015

        I’m glad you find it interesting, Ann Marie. I have been working on my own book about the Lindbergh Crime for some time now. I do not yet know when it will be published, but I am certain that it will be quite surprising to those folks (like Mike Melsky and Richard Cahill of this board) who have followed the case and its intricacies for many years.

      • Ann Marie
        Jul 24, 2015

        Let me know when the book comes out, Kurt, because I’d love to interview you, too.

  11. Kim
    Sep 24, 2020

    I have only two words. Hawley Bowlus.

    • Ann Marie
      Sep 29, 2020

      And what does he have to do with the case?

    • Ana Kyle
      Jan 12, 2023

      comment dated March l8, 2015 and Aug. 7, 2021 were both by the same person , Ana Kyle, but yet you write in Richard Cahill. Who is directing you? Quite a manipulation! Of all the legal terms, are you
      aware of Plagiarism? I am beginning to wonder if you are an attorney
      What part of the world are you from?

      • Ann Marie
        Feb 28, 2023

        There is no comment dated March 18, 2015 (the first comment is dated a day later) and one on August 7, 2021 from you, so I’m not sure what the point is you are trying to make. I never write under Richard Cahill’s name. Sometimes he comments himself. I am not aware of any plagiarism on this site, and if you have concerns about anything in my site having being plagiarized, please contact me with both the text in question and the source text. Like I have mentioned before, I am a former attorney from Seattle and Olympia, now living in Germany.

  12. Ana KYLE
    Aug 7, 2021

    It took me many years to find the true author of the Lindbergh ransom notes who turned out to be Thomas Clayton Wolfe, author and playwright. This story is one of the greatest set-ups I have ever come across. As the story continued into Sept. l934 Wolfe had to be contacted to continue telling a lie advising the key players.
    Wolfe’s greatest mistake was using he spelling of the Renaissance period (1400-l600 AD) in the ransom notes–
    concluded to be wrongful spelling by a German immigrant. Wolfe was known to have a great sense of humor. Wolfe was an English instructor at NYU whose favorite subject was the Renaissance period. Now you have a new story to turn to.

    • Ann Marie
      Aug 21, 2021

      Thanks for commenting, Ana. It would be interesting to hear what sources you have that Wolfe was the author of the notes. And what motive did he have for kidnapping the Lindbergh baby?

      • Ana Kyle
        Sep 5, 2021

        There was no kidnaping by anyone, the baby was transferred for others to care for him – careless accident??
        He disappeared before Christmas 1931 . Wolfe was hired only to write the ransom notes – Being a writer he saw the opportunity to create a story injecting titles to his stories. One must read or be familiar with his books. 65 words claimed to be misspelled were correctly spelled during the Renaissance peri0d. Wolfe’s favorite writings were from the Medieval period. This would exclude R. Hauptmann. It took thousands of hours to prove my findings. Handwriting identification is my profession.

      • Ann Marie
        Sep 6, 2021

        Thanks for your opinion. I tend to think differently, but that’s precisely what makes this case so interesting. It has so many facets.

      • Ana Kyle
        Sep 5, 2021

        I am a court-qualified document examiner with 48 years of experience in this field and excellent visual memory. All my sources for my conclusions are listed in two books which I authored —-
        (1) 2004 THE DEAD POETS PLUS ONE (The Lindbergh Kidnap case) (2) 2007 TWO MEN AND ONE PAIR OF SHOES (The Trial of Richard Hauptmann). I am moving on to my third book.
        Thank you for your interest.

      • Ann Marie
        Sep 6, 2021

        I googled your books and they don’t appear very available — they’re listed on but not on Amazon or any bookstores. And if you google the publisher, Three Poets Publishing Company, I don’t get any hits outside your books. What kind of publisher is that? (How does a poetry publisher have experience with the true crime genre?) Were your books peer-reviewed? I know that Richard Cahill’s book was, because I also published with Kent State Univeristy Press, and the books need to be approved by two “blind” reviewers with expertise in the field before they are published. Just based on the publishing houses alone, I would have to say that Cahill’s book has much more credibility.

        But putting credibility aside (many authors on this case also are experts in pertinent fields, like law or criminal investigation, and have come to different conclusions), what on earth would be the motive? Is there any evidence placing Wolfe at the crime scene? The testimony of one document examiner wouldn’t be enough to convict. I’m curious what other evidence you might have.

  13. Ana Kyle
    Sep 18, 2021

    My company is registered in Connecticut THREE POETS PUBLISHERS LLC I am the registered agent and president -filed April 2004
    2 books published (1)- THE DEAD POETS PLUS ONE –The Lindbergh case (2) TWO MEN AND ONE PAIR OF SHSOES -The trial of Richard Hauptmann 2007

    Studied the trial transcript at the Yale Law Library and anything else on file at the library.

    The dead poets are a reference to the Renaissance spelling contained within the ransom notes. “Dead Poets” John Donne, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton all English poets. Found all their books discovering the spelling found within the ransom notes.
    65 words claimed to be incorrectly spelled were actually correct . Not a single attorney or Document Examiner (handwriting expert) recognized the authentic spelling of the Medieval period. If they had this information the case would have taken a different turn. (Maybe!)The public was so in love with America’s hero who crossed the” pond” they would believe anything that came from his mouth.
    Richard Hauptmann, the accused, had an 8th grade education in Germany, did not speak a word of English until he arrived in the U.S. (1923). Slowly acquired the English language beginning with ‘I AM A DISHWASHER.”
    As I continued to research this case (l984-2007) I discovered that Wolfe had injected his autobiography into the ransom notes, included the number of his home address in Asheville, NC several titles to his stories and at the same time I identified his handwriting. All were encoded. His disguise of writing the ransom notes was not all that good. For reference I had collected over 300 pages of Wolfe’s handwriting from the age of 15 to 38 (last letter ) to his editor, Max Perkins.
    I stopped advertising my book many ago, book stores did not want to sell a book for $39.00. I applaud those who sell their books for $20.00 .
    If you and others cannot accept my research . so be it–If you can spend the next 10 years researching without becoming frustrated.

  14. Ana Kyle
    Sep 22, 2021

    Someone removed the answers to your questions in my last comment. What was that person afraid of?

  15. Ana Kyle
    Sep 22, 2021

    I answered your questions, someone removed my last comment.

  16. Ana Kyle
    Sep 27, 2021

    Apparently I hit a nerve with the departments involved. I sold many copies of my books to prominent handwriting experts (2004-07)-not one disagreed with my findings. Suddenly there was a rush to purchase Thomas Clayton Wolfe’s books on the internet. First editions sell for several thousand dollars. I had approximately 300 pages of handwriting by Wolfe which proved the ransom notes encoded with titles of his stories were written by Wolfe.

    The true exemplars by Richard Hauptmann had to disappear.
    Who contacted Wolfe to write only 10 pages of exemplars? Hauptmann wrote for 30 hours producing at least 75 pages of exemplars. (All gone) Lindbergh certainly knew the truth along with his attorney who was always by his side.
    I discovered a short letter written by a person with limited knowledge of the English language at the Yale Law Library. All the notebooks written by Hauptmann were rewritten by Wolfe to show it was the same person. Hauptmann’s wife stated how much Richard’s writing had changed. It was not Richard’s writing.
    Early in August, l934 -handwriting experts Osborn and son stated Hauptmann did not write the ransom nots -what changed their minds later?
    Think for a moment, my findings turned the case upside down. Everyone associated with the immediate family had knowledge of the truth. Magnificent set-up!
    In the end, the state of New Jersey executed an innocent person. Eight document examiners (8) for the prosecution examined forgeries against forgeries. I spent thousands of hours on this research , if I had been wrong I would have picked up on it early in the research and dropped it. I sold all copies of my first book THE DEAD POETS PLUS ONE, I ordered more of my second book TWO MEN AND ONE PAIR OF SHOES.

    • Ann Marie
      Sep 27, 2021

      There are no departments here, just me running the website. I’ve been out sick the past ten days and could not tend to the comments on the site, which need to approve before they get published.

      Thanks for answering my questions. You bring up some interesting points, but as an American living in Germany, who is familiar with how Germans write and speak English, I also find the ransom note consistent with how a German would write. But that stands to reason, because English is a Germanic language and medieval English was closer to German. But what leaves me scratching my head is — what possible motive would a poet have for murdering the Lindbergh baby and writing those notes? Why would he select medieval English? And do you have evidence that puts him in New Jersey at the right time? For me, the handwriting analysis isn’t enough to convince me. But it is interesting.

      • Ana Kyle
        Sep 28, 2021

        I have strong doubts the corpse discovered was the Lindbergh child -it was taken from a morgue or a grave. The remains were cremated and scattered over the Atlantic within 24 hours. by Lindbergh himself. No body no proof. Although Lindbergh and Betty Gow stated the remains were the Lindbergh child principally from an outer garment .For reasons known only to Lindbergh he did not want this child. He certainly did not want him found when he disappeared When a child is missing you obtain the most recent photo. What was shown in news papers
        was an newborn infant-June 22, 1930 – expected to be recognized 20 months later March 1, 1932. Since researchers questioned why Mark Falzini ,Archivist
        New Jersey State police was ordered to remove any and all parts of the remains. At the time of trial Jan.-Feb. l935 a photo of an older child found its place in newspapers across the country. A little late don’t you think?

      • Ann Marie
        Sep 28, 2021

        I’ve seen that photo. Was that photo introduced into evidence? If so, the prosecution would have had to provide evidence to convince the judge that the photo really was of the Lindbergh baby and that the chain of evidence was maintained, i.e. from the police photographer and the man who discovered the body. Why would the police, a witness, and prosecution participate in a cover up to protect a poet? Or are you saying that Lindbergh killed his own child and Wolfe wrote the ransom notes. I still don’t understand what motive Wolfe would have had to write the ransom notes.

        Because the corpse was decomposed on one side, I don’t think it’s likely that it came from a morgue or grave. That speaks for it laying out in the open on its side, IMO.

  17. Ana Kyle
    Sep 30, 2021

    Sept. 30, 2021 I cannot state the circumstances of Jr.’s death
    for whether the “remains” were Charles Jr. Any photo of the “remains” are a bit of a blur for a good reason – not to positively identify the child. – I cannot state Lindbergh’s state of mind during this period of confusion.

    Wolfe’s motive —-a great challenge to deceive the world that the world’s most famous baby was kidnaped and murdered. Secondly, the money must have been great. The ransom notes were actually Wolfe’s encoded autobiography . As an experienced but unsuccessful playwright, he became Richard Hauptmann (ransom notes) which included a letter to the Governor. This occurred after R. Hauptmann was questioned and arrested. Before Aug. -Sept. 1934 Hauptmann did not exist to the police or Lindbergh himself. At one point, Lindbergh and his atty had to reveal to the police who actually wrote the ransom notes. All of Hauptmann’s exemplars written for the police had to disappear and replaced with the “new” exemplars.
    An examination of the early exemplars studied by Osborn and son were correct -stating Hauptmann did not write the ransom notes. I had to hunt for Osborn’s early results that Hauptmann did not write the ransom notes. Osborn was working with Hauptmann’s true exemplars in the beginning.
    No matter how a person tries you cannot erase or remove everything . Someone will find the truth. Anyone has the right to disagree unfortunately it placed Hauptmann in the electric chair. As researchers are aware, it is not possible to include every clue I discovered over 23 years of research.

    • Ann Marie
      Oct 1, 2021

      Interesting. How do you explain the ransom money found in Hauptmann’s closest and floor boards in his attic that matched the ladder used in the kidnapping?

      • Ana Kyle
        Oct 20, 2021

        The money found on a high shelf of a broom closet was placed there when his business associate Isidor Fisch left for a vacation to visit his family in Germany. The box was forgotten until a rain storm created a leak in the closet
        forcing Hauptmann to remove the box from the shelf . The box had to be opened to remove any soaked items. It was not until that time he realized it was money, soaking wet. He decided to tell his wife Anna about his discovery and hid it in various containers in his garage. It had been 6 months since his business associate Fisch died in Germany. Hauptmann felt he
        had the right to keep $7,000, which he had loaned Fisch before his trip to Germany in Dec. l933. Apparently he decided to keep what was left until the police in Sept. l934 discovered the containers filled with money.
        l6th Rail – Now it is necessary to read Wolfe’s stories.
        The l6th Rail is actually the l6th Railway traveling from New York city (Penn Station) to Asheville, N. C
        Wolfe’s hometown. He continued to inject clues to his autobiography. There were numerous clues pertaining to his life including disguised wording to his full length and short stories. One should purchase “Short stories by Thomas Wolfe.

      • Ann Marie
        Oct 20, 2021

        If it wasn’t Hauptmann, how did the wood from his attic get into the ladder? This still doesn’t make sense to me.

  18. Ana Kyle
    Nov 9, 2021

    Of all the theories submitted in your column and others it comes down to the following by Dr. Joseph Goebbels , Administrator of Propaganda (Germany 1933-45): ” Create a big lie, make it simple, repeat it often and eventually the world will believe it.”
    Must more be said?

  19. Sheri Molnar
    Jan 25, 2022

    Why won’t this page print or save????

    • Ann Marie
      Feb 6, 2022

      Because of a copyright protection plug-in I’ve installed. To what end do you want to copy my material?

  20. Diego
    Feb 14, 2022

    CommentMtRoseRd-HopewellPrincetonRD Body Found Shack Nearby Own by:Charles Schippell 4-14-1887 /11-16-1948.( buried NY)WifeCharlotte Schippel(m1920)1896to1966 buried NJ.Shack40acres OwnBy BerthaKleimann.Charles Schippel circumstancial evidence:1.)He’ near the crime 5-12-1932.2.)He buried daughters baby cloths near spot (yr or so later?)4.Neighbors claim thought he did it?5.NOconnect Schippell with ransom money&450 or more not accounted for?Name Some People claim things about him:1.)Bertha Burke father Frank Benjamin.2.)NJST Degaetano 3.)Frank Wilson 4.)neighbor Leo Rodweiller 5.)Kochler/Bornmaninspect garage Schippell(Schopfel) 6.)George Schneck 7.)A J JFerris 8.)neighbor Oscar Fengler 9.)neighbor Mrs Quinn 10,)Keaton 11.)Squire Johnson 12.)George Daws 13.)Ray Sanderson14.)Summer renters of shack:Charles Marne Maran,Joe Cerardi,(Enrico Carodi)Gerardi,aka Frank Jerome Sophie Cerardi bro Morris Rosenthal.Charles Schippell claim baby stuff(1932-33) he buried was his daughters Charlotte 11yr (b1921).Why couldn’t gave baby clothes salvation army or someone had baby,why did it take Schippel so long bury it?Charlotte 1937-38 had Tonsility operation/She’s college( NJ Newspapers) Money paid for it??Hauptman connect Ransom Money-whereas,Schippell connected near 3-1-32/5-12-32 even buried baby clothes in area Mt Rose Rd Hopewell -Princeton Rd&authories found wood/ladders/tools Schippell tool shed but no Ransom $$$$?Lindbergh Neighbors all saw Green Vehicle&Didn’t Haupfman,Schippell,Red Johnson& john Condon& AlReich& Henry Ellerson same color vehicles?Lindbergh Highfield Estate Witnesses Ben Lupica,Theresa Dorsi,Alfred Hammond,John Doughorty,Henry Conover&family,Andrew Hausenbauer,Nelson Wycoff,Lou Harding,DaveMoore,HarryGplump,Millared Whited,Peter Voorhee,TracyHall(delivery),Cristopik,Viandro Copa farm,Andrew Miller Farm?So was Green Car?

    • Ann Marie
      Feb 14, 2022

      It’s hard to follow this. Can you explain it in another way?

  21. Enver Hoxha
    Jun 7, 2022

    Hauptmann done it!

  22. Mikey
    Aug 7, 2022

    Anne Marie, you are the most amazingly tolerant, diplomatic, open, engaging, host I’ve ever encountered! Just outstanding. Right up there with the way Renee Ellory (trains the FBI), aka “Eyes for Lies”, runs her site, eyesforlies with a 95% accuracy rate . Tolerance to the extreme of ideas, and frustrations, as long as there is no name calling or abuse. Inspiring to witness. Thanks for your dedication.

  23. Ana Kyle
    Dec 5, 2022

    I have never read anything clawed to death as one of the comments concerning my book TWO MEN AND ONE PAIR OF SHOES The trial of Richard Hauptmann. The person who made the last comment concerning my publication never read my book nor did that person lay eyes on the cover which was falsified for your column . There is a second person behind you.

    I decided that I would have control of my research and not allow
    any publishing company to change my research to suit them.
    I can back up everything that was written. I am the only person who can sell my book.

    • Ann Marie
      Feb 28, 2023

      Self-publishing can cut two ways. Yes, you have more control, but it isn’t as credible. Have you submitted any of your conclusions to peer-reviewed journals? If they have been published there, that would be worth looking at.

  24. Ana Kyle
    Jan 8, 2023

    You expertly credited Richard Cahill Jr. with my discovery of the true author of the ransom notes. In order for that to happen he had to be a highly experienced Document Examiner/Handwriting expert. I’m sure you understand the term “plagiarism.”

    • Ann Marie
      Feb 28, 2023

      I interviewed Richard Cahill about his book and reported his statements.

  25. Ana Kyle
    Feb 27, 2023

    Aug. 7, 2021 Posting – “It took many years to find the true author…” When quoting someone else’s comments you should use quotation marks which you did not, one would assume it was Richard Cahill’s discovery. In that case it was necessary for him to be an experienced document examiner which he is not.
    One could be bordering on subtle plagiarism.

    • Ann Marie
      Feb 28, 2023

      That quote was from you, as part of a comment under your name, so there was no need to use quotation marks.

  26. Trish Galvin
    Mar 15, 2023

    Are there any photographs of the gloves that they found with the corpse?


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