Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lindbergh Kidnapping

Parallel Threads

At this point, a number of simultaneous stories take place. Not only will Lindbergh and his trusted friends take charge, but, beyond their control, others will become involved.

One week after the child was kidnapped, John F. Condon offered his services as go-between.

John Condon
John Condon

On the one hand, Condon is described as a ham, an eccentric, a braggart, a self-promoter, and a windbag inflated with his own importance. On the other hand, he is a benevolent scout leader, dedicated, sentimental, a patriot, and a guileless rube. His book, Jafsie Tells All, reads like a turn-of-the-century Frank Merriwell novel, with Condon casting himself as a noble knight, dedicated to the service of his idol, Charles Lindbergh.

The kidnappers accepted his offer, Lindbergh accepted his offer, and negotiations were authorized. Condon placed an ad, as instructed, in the New York American, notifying the kidnappers that the money was ready. He concocted a code name based on his initials "Jafsie," a condensation of J.F.C. On March 12, Condon received written instructions, delivered by a cab driver. Despite not having the money, Condon set off to meet with a kidnapper in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. The kidnapper had a Germanic accent and asked for the money. Condon told him that he didn't have it, and that he couldn't deliver it until he had seen the baby. The man, who told Condon that his name was John and that he was Scandinavian, said that he could not let Condon see the baby "Number One will be mad" but that he would send Condon a "token," the baby's sleeping suit, by Monday morning.


The number of individuals involved in the Lindbergh case, from its beginning in 1932 to its conclusion in 1936, is well into several hundred. It is necessary to construct a scorecard of the participants, if this complicated story can be followed. At various times a single individual played a crucial, yet isolated role, such as the truck driver, William Allen, who found the child's body. Some participants, such as Lieutenant Arthur Keaton of the New Jersey State Police, were involved in the entire four-year period, and its aftermath. What follows is a selected list of the characters that will assist the reader in following the bizarre twists and turns of this case.

The Household
Col. Charles A. Lindbergh
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
Betty Gow, the baby's nurse
Oliver Whately, caretaker, chauffeur, etc.
Elsie Whately, cook, housemaid, etc.

Other family, friends, ancillaries
Elizabeth Morrow, Anne Lindbergh's mother
Elisabeth Morrow Morgan, Anne Lindbergh's sister
Henry C. Breckinridge, the Lindbergh's lawyer and family friend
Violet Sharpe, Morrow family maid

The Investigators
Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Head, NJ State Police
Maj. John J. Lamb, NJ State Police
Lieut. Arthur T. Keaton, NJ State Police
Cpl. Frank A. Kelly, crime scene investigator, NJ State Police
J. Edgar Hoover, Director, FBI
Elmer Irey, Head, IRS Law Enforcement Division
Harry W. Walsh, Jersey City Police Department
James Finn, New York City Police Department

Go-Betweens, Con-Men, Dupes
John F. Condon, "Jafsie"
Morris ("Mickey") Rosner, bootlegger and swindler
Salvatore Spitale and Irving Blitz, Rosner's associates
Gaston B. Means, former detective and swindler
Evalyn Walsh McLean, Washington socialite
John Hughes Curtis, shipbuilder

The Accused
Bruno Richard Hauptmann

The Judge
Thomas W. Trenchard

The Prosecution
David T. Wilentz
Anthony M. Hauck
Joseph P. Lanigan

The Defense
Edward J. Reilly
C. Lloyd Fisher

The Experts
Arthur Koehler, wood expert
Albert S. Osborn, handwriting expert
J. Vreeland, handwriting expert

Other Characters
Anna Hauptmann, Bruno Richard Hauptmann's wife
Isador Fisch, German fur trader
Ellis Parker, Sr., Detective, Burlington County, NJ
Harold G. Hoffman, Governor of New Jersey

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