The Lindbergh baby kidnapping

The son of Charles A. Lindbergh, seized by kidnappers, is said to bear a remarkable resemblance to his father, who is shown here in infancy, in boyhood and as he appeared when an air mail pilot.

Not a local story, but a big story in the history books.

My copy of the Malone Evening Telegram from March 4, 1932, is a real treasure. It had once belonged to Cora Sprague, whose name is on the mailing label but with no legible address.

Though I was only 6 years old at the time, I do remember my parents, in the evening, close to the radio as the Lindbergh story dominated the news.

The date of this newspaper is very clear over the photos. The kidnapping took place two days earlier, about 9 p.m. on March 2, and that information along with the baby’s name, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., and age, 20 months, is never mentioned in the Telegram stories. Perhaps because the newspaper had carried news of the kidnapping in earlier editions. There was no real lead story but numerous stories about the kidnapping. Following are excerpts from those stories, all datelined Hopewell, N.J. (AP).

Movie ads in the Malone Evening Telegram, March 4, 1932

Nurse discovers baby is missing

“Betty Gow, the handsome young nurse of the kidnapped Lindbergh baby, was subjected to lengthy examination by police at the Lindbergh home today.

“It was learned that the police questioned Miss Gow at length last night and started again early this morning.

“No statement was issued as to the nature of the questions or as to what police hoped to develop by their protracted examination.

“It was Miss Gow who discovered the kidnapping when she went into the Lindbergh nursery at 10:30 o’clock Tuesday night. She had put the baby to bed at 7:30.

“When the baby, who had been ill with a cold, was put to bed Mrs. Lindbergh started to follow the usual procedures of opening the nursery windows and closing and fastening the wooden shutters.

“She found, however, that one of the shutters was so warped that it would not close. This shutter was therefore left open and through that unguarded window the kidnapper entered to steal the child.

“Miss Gow, a pretty, black haired woman with a cheerful smiling face and the springy step of an athlete, was selected for the position by Elizabeth Morrow, Mrs. Lindbergh’s sister.

“Miss Morrow runs a school of her own in Englewood and she spent considerable time in choosing the person she thought best suited for her nephew’s nurse.

“Miss Gow has probably seen much more of the baby than has its mother because of Mrs. Lindbergh’s absences from home with her flying husband.”

Official statements

A summary by the authorities:

“We do not know who kidnapped Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., from his crib Tuesday night.

“We have no knowledge of his present whereabouts.

“We do not know if he be alive or dead.

“And there has been no offer of the baby’s return made to Col. Lindbergh.”

“Those were the essential facts,” the article said. “Behind the negative announcements, however, were elaborate maneuverings by the multitudinous forces of law seeking solution of the most astonishing abduction America has ever known.”

Immunity asked in phone call

“State police revealed this morning that an anonymous telephone call to the Lindbergh home shortly after midnight this morning asked whether immunity would be granted to the kidnappers of the Lindbergh baby.

“The call was disclosed by Captain J. J. Lamb, of the New Jersey state police, stationed at the Lindbergh home, in a telephone interview through Lt. Conklin, of the state police.

“The police intercepted the call and immediately made an effort to trace its source.

“No details of the conversation were made public, and Lamb refused to say whether any new messages had been received. Lamb refused to say what he told the questioner over the phone or to disclose what significance police attached to the incident.

“Asked whether Lindbergh would grant ransom, Lamb answered ‘yes.’ Asked if Lindbergh would be willing to grant immunity, Lamb declined to answer.”

Appeal to kidnappers

“TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Col. and Mrs. Charles A. Lindbergh issued an appeal direct to the kidnappers of their baby today, assuring the criminals that entire confidence might be placed ‘in any promise we may make.’

“The appeal, made jointly by the Colonel and his wife, was issued through the office of Gov. A. Harry Moore. It was given to the press in the hope that the kidnappers would read it and immediately open negotiations for the return of the baby.”

It is quite a long appeal that begins, “Mrs. Lindbergh and I desire to make personal contact with the kidnappers of our child. Our only interest is in his immediate and safe return,” etc., etc.


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