On March 1, 1932, Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., the 20-month-old baby of the world’s greatest aviator, was snatched away from his home in Hopewell, N.J., in a crime that struck at the very heart at America’s sense of itself.
In the first 72 hours after the kidnapping, the radio networks issued 300 bulletins — giving birth to the new profession of news broadcasting. Police forces across the nation mobilized to help. Less helpfully, hundreds of bogus sightings of the baby poured in every day — along with phony ransom demands and letters from cranks and con men offering to help locate the victim.
Of course, the baby was dead from the beginning — either deliberately killed by the kidnapper or dropped when he descended the ladder from the Lindbergh home’s second story. The suspected kidnapper, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, would be tracked down to the Bronx in 1934 by his spending of ransom bills. He was executed in 1936.