It led to the arrest of Bruno Richard Hauptmann who was charged and convicted of murder in the famous case. He was sentenced to death and was executed at 8:44 p.m. on April 3, 1936 ("The Kidnappimg"). The trial had ended, but the controversy continues today. While some critics claim that Hauptmann was framed to save face for the government, others are convinced that Hauptmann was the perpetrator. A close look at the methods of the time, the exhaustive investigation, and the evidence surrounding the case leaves little doubt that 'Bruno' Hauptmann was instrumental in the crime.
The case was controversial from the very first moments after the disappearance was discovered. It involved the son of the famous aviator, a beloved national hero. Immediately after the nurse, Betty Gow, discovered the open window and missing child, Lindbergh got a gun and went outside the house. He discovered a ladder near the open window and went to investigate. He trampled the footprints that remained and destroyed crucial evidence. In the flurry of confusion, the crime scene was contaminated. Local, state, and national law enforcement agencies all vowed to commit whatever resources were necessary to the investigation. However, the first errors in the case came when Charles Lindbergh insisted on being placed in charge of the investigation. Though the best professionals available had been assigned to the case, Lindbergh "[...] personally took charge, often ignoring the advice and overriding the decisions of the professionals" (Levy 34). These initial mistakes by Lindbergh would leave the case open to future criticism.
A poorly written ransom note was found at the scene, though authorities were unable to find any fingerprints on it. The remains of the ladder, broken during use, were the only physical evidence. Lindbergh approved a plan to attempt to contact the kidnappers and arrange for the ransom to be paid after a second note was received on March 6, 1932 demanding $70,000. ("Famous Cases"). Within 10 days, a man named Dr. John F. Condon, Bronx, New York City, a retired school principal, contacted the Lindbergh's attorney and said he could mediate the safe return of the child.
A series of meetings took place in a graveyard where Condon, code named 'Jasfie', and an elusive figure known as 'Graveyard John' discussed ransom and the child's safety. During one of these meetings, 'Graveyard John' offered proof of the child. According to the FBI, "A baby's sleeping suit, as a token of identity, and a seventh ransom note were received by Dr. Condon on March 16. The suit was delivered to Colonel Lindbergh and later identified" ("Famous Cases"). Arrangements were made to pay the ransom and secure the release of young Charlie.
On April 2, ransom money was delivered to Graveyard John while Charles Lindbergh waited close by in an automobile. Graveyard John gave Condon a note which had instructions on the location of the child. The note said that the child could be found in Martha's Vineyard in a boat named Nellie, "between Horseneck beach and Gay Head near Elizabeth Island" ("The Kidnapping"). However, Lindbergh had been double-crossed as no boat could be located with that name and no baby was found ("The Kidnapping"