The body of Charles Lindbergh’s kidnapped baby was found on this day in 1932, more than two months after he was stolen from his family’s mansion in Hopewell, New Jersey.
His father had become the first worldwide celebrity five years earlier when he flew The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic. On March 1, Charles and his wife Anne discovered a ransom note in their twenty-month-old child’s empty room. The kidnapper had used a ladder to climb up to the open second-story window and had left muddy footprints in the room. The ransom note demanded $50,000.
The crime captured the nation’s attention. Even Al Capone offered his help from prison (though it was conditioned on his release). Investigators found nothing for three days, then a new letter arrived demanding $70,000.
On April 2, kidnappers gave instructions for dropping off the money. Then they indicated that the baby was on a boat called Nelly off the coast of Massachusetts. An exhaustive search found no sign of the boat or the child, however.
On May 12, a renewed search of the area near the Lindbergh mansion found the baby’s body. He had been killed the night of the kidnapping and was found less than a mile from the home. The heartbroken family donated the mansion to charity and moved away.
Two years later, a marked bill from the ransom turned up. It was tracked to a German immigrant named Bruno Hauptmann. When his home was searched, investigators found $13,000 of the Lindbergh ransom money.
Hauptmann claimed that a friend had given him the money to hold and argued that he had no connection to the crime. The trial that followed was once again a national story. In addition to the ransom money, the main evidence was testimony from handwriting experts that the ransom note had been written by Hauptmann and his connection to the type of wood used to make the ladder.
He was convicted of the crime. In April 1936, he was executed in the electric chair.
The Lindbergh baby’s death was an obvious and horrific tragedy. But the issue of missing children is far larger than even a single precious child.
Loving children shows that we love God
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) assisted law enforcement and families last year with more than 29,000 cases of missing children. Of the 26,300 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2019, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
And we should note that there have been more than fifteen million abortions so far this year. As Mother Teresa noted, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
When Jesus and his disciples returned from the Mount of Transfiguration to Capernaum, “He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me'” (Mark 9:36–37). To “receive” (Greek dexetai) means to accept or value.
Our love for our Father is expressed by our love for his children. How will you “receive” a child today?