Charles A. Lindbergh: First Day of Testimony
January 3, 1935
CHARLES A. LINDBERGH,
sworn as a witness on behalf of the State.
Direct Examination by Mr. Wilentz:
Q. Colonel, you are the husband of the lady who was just on the stand?
A. I am.
Q. On March 1st, 1932, you and your family resided in Hunterdon County in the Sourland Mountains?
A. That is right.
Q. And you would go from there to Englewood occasionally and back again?
Q. Particularly with reference to the week end of March 1st, 1932, you and your family did stay and occupy the Hunterdon County home, did you not?
A. During the week end on Saturday and Sunday, yes.
Q. Your household at that time, I take it, consisted of Miss Betty Gow, Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley, Mrs. Lindbergh, yourself and your son?
A. That is right.
Q. He was twenty months old approximately, as I understand it?
Mr. Wilentz: Counsel, I hope, do not mind these leading questions.
Mr. Reilly: No.
Q. On that day particularly, March 1st, 1932, I take it you were at business?
Q. What is your occupation—what was it on March 1st, 1932?
A. My occupation is aviation. On March 1st, 1932, I had spent the day in New York.
Q. And what time did you return from New York?
A. Not during the entire day on aviation, various things.
Q. On March 1st, 1932, what time did you return to your Sourland Mountain home?
A. I arrived about 9:25 in the evening.
Q. And when you got home, will you tell us briefly from there until about 10:00 o’clock what happened?
A. I came by car, arriving about 8:25.
Q. By the way, did you drive yourself?
A. Yes, came alone.
Q. Yes, sir.
A. I put the car in the garage at the west end of our house. From there, I went in through the kitchen and joined my wife at supper in the dining room on the west end of the main section of the house on the lower floor. We left supper about approximately 9:00 o’clock, went from there into the room adjoining the dining room, which we call the living room of the house on the lower floor. We sat on a sofa there for about five or ten minutes, approximately. From there, we went upstairs to our room and continued our conversation there.
I then went into the bathroom, took a bath, came downstairs, went into the library, which is on the east end of the main part of the lower floor of the house, sat down at a desk next to the southeast window in that library and began reading.
Q. All right, sir. Now just one moment, please there, Colonel. Would you mind standing up, please, Colonel?
A. (Witness steps before the map on the wall.)
Q. The library that you refer to, therefore, is the library shown on Exhibit S-4, the easterly corner of it—that is, the southeasterly corner of the house?
A. That is correct.
Q. And the window alongside of which this writing table was placed is the window immediately under the sash window, I think they call it, of the nursery?
A. Under the south sash window on the east side.
Q. The south sash window on the east side?
A. That is correct.
Q. And that is where you were writing?
A. Yes. The desk was placed right here (indicating).
Q. Right about in the southeast corner, is that it?
A. Yes, facing south.
Q. All right. Now you were writing there at about what time would you say, and for how long?
A. I was reading.
A. At that desk; reading.
Q. About how long?
A. I should say approximately half an hour.
Q. And about what time do you believe it was when you first went to that desk or went to that room to sit down to read and started your half hour reading?
A. (No answer.)
Q. I understood you to say that you finished dinner about nine o’clock.
A. It would be in the vicinity of 9:30.
Q. And while you were there did you have a clear view of the window that was right alongside of the desk?
A. I was sitting beside the window. The window was open, or rather the window was closed, but the shatters were open.
Q. The shutters were open?
A. The shutters were open and no curtain was drawn.
Q. Was there a curtain on the window?
A. There was no curtain on the window.
Q. No curtain on the window?
A. No curtain on the window.
Q. So that it was absolutely visible to you?
A. Yes, of course.
Q. The window panes were visible to you?
A. Yes, of course.
Q. You could see through them so far as the darkness would permit?
A. As far as the darkness permitted, yes.
Q. Did you see any objects coming down past that window or in the vicinity of that window that night?
A. I did not.
Q. Prior to that time, remembering that that was about 9:30, you had been in the living room, had you not?
A. Prior to that time I had been upstairs, and prior to that time in the living room.
Q. Well, some time during that night did you hear some sort of a noise or crash?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. About what time was it and where were you?
A. Sitting on the sofa in the living room during the ten or fifteen minutes after we had come into the living room from the dining room. At that time I heard a sound which seemed to me, at the time, the impression that entered my mind at the time vaguely was that it was like the top of—well, say, an orange box, the top slats of an orange box falling off a chair, which I assumed to be in the kitchen.
Q. That is, sort of like the falling of a crate, a wooden crate?
A. The slats of a crate.
Q. At any rate, what you felt was happening was that some piece of wood, like the slats of a crate had fallen in the kitchen?
A. That is correct. I did not pay very much attention to it at the time, but enough to remark to my wife the words. “What is that?”
Q. And except for that, it went unnoticed?
Q. About what time was that?
A. That would be about 9:10 or 9:15.
Q. Was it the sort of a noise that would come with the falling of a ladder?
A. Yes, it was, if the ladder was outside?
Q. Finally, at about ten o’clock in the evening Miss Gow spoke to you about the child, did she not?
A. About ten o’clock.
Q. Where were you then?
A. I was reading in the library.
Q. What happened, tell us, then?
A. Miss Gow called to me in a rather excited voice and asked me if I had the baby.
Q. What happened from then on?
A. I immediately went upstairs into the nursery and from the appearance of the room I realized, and from the appearance of the crib I realized that something had gone wrong.
Q. What was the appearance of the room that indicated to you that something had gone wrong, Colonel?
A. As I entered the room I at first and immediately looked at the crib. The bed clothing in the crib was in such condition that I felt it was impossible for the baby to have gotten out himself. I knew that neither my wife nor Miss Gow had taken him because Miss Gow had asked me if I had him and my wife was upstairs. The clothing was standing—the bed clothing was standing stiffly enough so that the opening where the baby had been was still there, the clothing had not collapsed.
Q. Was the clothing in that crib still affixed to the mattress by pins, if you know?
A. As I recall, it was.
Q. I see. Did you see a note in the room, a paper or what?
A. Yes, I am not at the moment certain whether I saw that note at that time or the next time I entered the room.
Q. I see.
A. But, either the first or second time; I came back very shortly.
Q. How much time intervened, would you say, between your first visit into the room and the second that you refer to?
A. I should say not over five minutes.
Q. At any rate, on one of those occasions you found the note there?
A. I had found a note unopened on the window sill on the southeast corner of the room on the window facing east.
Q. Did you find it or was your attention directed to it by anyone?
A. No, I found it.
Q. I see. And I understood you to say on the window sill?
A. On the window sill.
Q. Was the window open or closed?
A. The window was closed.
Q. And, is this the window shown in Exhibit S-12 alongside of which or near which you found the note?
A. It is, on which I found the note.
Q. Will you describe, as you look at this exhibit, just the spot where you found the note?
A. The note was in an envelope on top of the grating which forms the window sill and through which heat comes from the radiator.
Q. Will you please step down and just show the jury on .that exhibit, the point at which that note was found by you?
A. (Witness steps down before the jury.) The note was on this sill.
Q. Indicating the sill underneath the east window, along the east window?
A. On this sill (indicating).
Q. I show you an envelope with the initials F.A.K. on the back of it, and a note with the same initials on the back of it and ask you whether or not that note and that envelope were found by you in that room that night, and whether or not those are the papers you just referred to as being on that window sil.
A. These are the papers. The note was in the envelope. The initials F.A.K. were not on at that time.
Q. Who placed those initials on?
A. They were placed on, I believe, by Trooper Kelly; but this is the note and this is the envelope which contained the note on the window sill at that time.
Mr. Wilentz: I offer them in evidence.
Mr. Reilly: No objection.
Mr. Fisher: May we look at it first?
Mr. Wilentz: What is the request?
Mr. Fisher: May we look at it while you go on with your examination, for a moment?
Mr. Wilentz: Well, how about the envelope? Do you want to look at that too?
Mr. Fisher: Yes.
Mr. Wilentz: I should prefer, if the Court has no objection, to await the determination of counsel.
Mr. Fisher: Oh, we will only be just a second.
Mr. Reilly: No objection.
Mr. Wilentz: Will you please mark first the envelope S-17.
Mr. Fisher: Will it be marked as one exhibit?
Mr. Wilentz: No, two. And the note—
The Reporter: Do you want to take it out?
The Court: If there is no objection, they will be admitted as S-17 and S-18. Is that the idea?
Mr. Wilentz: Yes, if your Honor please; the envelope is S-17 and the note S-18.
(Envelope received in evidence and marked State Exhibit S-17.)
(Note referred to received in evidence and marked State Exhibit S-18.)
Mr. Wilentz: I desire to ask permission of the Court to read the note.
The Court: You may read it.
Mr. Wilentz: “Dear Sir: Have—”
Mr. Pope: Have you got a copy of the note for us, or anything that we can follow?
Mr. Wilentz: If there is a copy I would like to have counsel give it to Mr. Pope. I did present a complete copy to former counsel for the defense and it was the only copy I had, but there must be some copy here and we will get it for you.
“Have 50,000 (and the dollar mark after it) dollars ready, 25,000 (and then the dollar mark) in 20 (then dollar mark) bills, 15,000 (dollar mark) in 10 (dollar mark) bills, and 10,000 (in each case the dollar mark is after the numbers and I will just refer to them) dollars in 5 dollar bills. After 2-4 days we will inform you where to deliver the money (m-o-n-y). We warn you making anything (a-n-y-d-i-n-g) public or for notify the police. The child is in gut (g-u-t) care. Instruction (or indication) (I don’t know which it is) for the letters are singnature (not signature singnature, s-i-n-g, singnature—I want you please to remember that). Then you find these two circles and as indicated there, somewhere within them, as you see them better than I can describe it, this red fire ball or blotch and at these distances three holes. Singnature three holes. That is his signature—singnature.
By Mr. Wilentz:
Q. Now, Colonel, of course you found your baby was missing and you found that—did somebody want to see it—the bed clothes in the room and the baby’s room had been disturbed. Did you notify the police?
A. I—shall I describe it, what happened to it?
Q. Yes, please.
A. I immediately went into the closet in our own room adjoining and got a Springfield rifle which I kept there and stood at the top of the stairs, called to Mr. Wheatley and asked him to call the sheriff at Hopewell. That was the nearest officer of the law that I knew of. As soon as I found that his telephone call went through, so that the wires were not cut, which I had expected, as soon as he received an answer from the sheriff so that I knew that he was coming, I went outside on the road north of the house.
Q. With the rifle?
A. With the rifle. It was extremely dark that night, I could see a very little distance, and I walked on that road probably for a hundred yards. I then returned to the house. Before I went on the road—I jumped—
Q. All right.
A. I went ahead a little bit. After Mr. Wheatley had made contact with the sheriff at Hopewell, or with the Chief of Police, I then went downstairs—before I went out onto that road—and called the New Jersey State police and Colonel Breckenridge in New York. Then I took the rifle and went out onto the road.
Q. And who is Colonel Breckenridge?
A. Col. Breckenridge is my friend and attorney in New York.
Q. Your friend and attorney?
Q. You say you went out with this rifle and then returned?
Q. Then what did you do, if anything? Had police come?
A. Very shortly after that, Chief Wolfe arrived. Meanwhile, we had touched nothing in the house, in the nursery room. I left instructions not to touch anything there. I myself had not touched the note. And after Chief Wolfe arrived, we began looking around the house outside.
Q. You are talking of Chief Wolfe of the Hopewell Police?
A. Of the Hopewell Police, yes. We went around the side under the nursery window,—that is, on the east side of the house; and as I recall now, it was Chief Wolfe who, with his flashlight, found, located the ladder lying quite a few feet in approximately a southeast direction from the nursery window.
Q. You mean that by the light of the flashlight you could see the ladder?
A. Could see the ladder yes.
Q. That was either Chief Wolfe or Williamson?
A. Yes. I remember clearly seeing the ladder but I am not certain at the moment who was holding the light. We walked through there on the planks which had been laid over the mud on the east side of the house, and we found both footprints and the imprints of the end of the ladder approximately under the southeast window of the nursery; but offset slightly to the north. So that the ladder was actually resting slightly to the north of the window itself.
Q. And you found the imprints of that ladder there?
Q. And you say footprints; did you find Mrs. Lindbergh’s footprints there?
A. The footprints that I saw at the time were of a man.
Q. I see. Did you see any of her footprints?
A. I don’t recall seeing any of hers.
Q. You don’t recall. All right. Now after that, sir, I take it that State police came and you showed them the note? Oh, pardon me, before that, when Officer Williamson, or Chief—Chief Wolfe, is it?
A. Chief Wolfe.
Q. Chief Wolfe?
A. And Officer Williamson.
Q. And Officer Williamson; when they came did you take them up to the nursery?
A. I believe so.
Q. Well, at any rate, who were the officers, if you remember, Colonel, to whom you first exhibited the note?
A. I left instructions, after finding the note, that no one was to touch it, and the note was not touched until Trooper Wolfe of the New Jersey State Police arrived. He moved the note from the window sill to the mantle over the fire place with a penknife.
Q. Yes, sir.
A. And the note itself was not opened until Trooper Kelly arrived with suitable equipment for examining it.
Q. For examining it, you mean, for fingerprints?
Q. Now I want to show you a picture of what, I believe, purports to be the ground right underneath the window in the immediate vicinity of that window, with some impressions or holes in the ground, and ask you whether you recognize those holes as being the place where the ladder stood, or the indentation or the impressions made by the foot of the ladder that you have just referred to?
A. Yes, they are.
Q. Do they correctly depict the impression that you saw there that night made by the foot of that ladder?
A. By the ladder, yes.
Q. By the ladder—
A. But there are other impressions.
Q. There are other impressions, but particularly in reference to that; and that is what I am limiting it to?
Q. And that walk—there seems to be a board there; is that the boardwalk that Mrs. Lindbergh referred to a while ago?
A. That either is or is similar to the walk that was lying—that was there that night.
Mr. Wilentz: I offer it in evidence.
Mr. Reilly: We would like to admit this, but, if the Court please, we would like to know when it was taken.
Mr. Wilentz: Yes, sir.
Mr. Reilly: How it was taken and by whom it was taken.
Mr. Wilentz: My information is that—well, let me offer it for identification.
Mr. Reilly: For identification, yes, follow it up tomorrow.
(The photograph was marked State Exhibit S-6 for Identification.)
Q. Well, at any rate, Colonel, there was the note and the ladder, impressions in the ground that you speak about, the child gone, police officers coming—I suppose the press soon came too?
Q. And about how many, would you say, were represented there in Hopewell that night before day break?
A. I don’t know, I imagine several hundred.
Q. Several hundred. So that, I take it, between the press and the police—and there were police of many organizations, weren’t there?
A. There were.
Q. I take it that there was considerable confusion and walking in and about the premises, right?
A. Well, there was, the greatest confusion was before all of the press arrived and while the press was there, there was a great deal of walking around outside of the house by the press which was absolutely out of control as far as the vicinity was concerned.
Q. I suppose that included the taking of pictures and flashlights and things of that kind?
A. Yes, and walking around the house on the loose ground there.
Q. And during all that time you were doing what, Colonel?
A. During the first period I was around the house trying to familiarize the officials with what had happened.
Q. And go ahead, Colonel.
A. Later in the evening and during the early hours of the morning I was out on different parts, different places in the vicinity of the house with the group of police officers, visiting other houses.
Q. I want to go back for a minute, please—It is quite disconnected, possibly, but I want to get back to the time in the house, and particularly when you were in the living room. As I remember it, the living room opens into the hallway, isn’t that so?
A. Yes, yes, in addition to other doors.
Q. But, it does open into the hallway.
A. With a double door.
Q. With a double door. And, there are two staircases, one leading to the right and one leading to the left, isn’t that so?
A. One staircase from the living room.
Q. One staircase from the living room?
A. From the living room. The other stair is in the back of the house.
Q. In the back of the house? Well, now, the staircase leading from the living room—Could you see that? You couldn’t see it unless the door was open, could you?
Was the door open that night when you came from dinner and walked into that living room, for 15 minutes or so?
A. Yes, sir; the doors were open that evening.
Q. Did anybody—I will withdraw that. They were open that evening as I understand it?
Q. Were the doors open to the library from the living room?
Q. We will get back, then, again to the scene in the home, the confusion. Mrs. Lindbergh, I take it, remained in the house?
A. I believe so, yes.
Q. Did you not also have Mr. Wheatley drive the car along the premises, playing his lights on the highway or on the road for a part of the way?
A. Mr. Wheatley went outside. At the moment I don’t recall just what his actions were. He went outside and was searching outside for a time.
Q. All right, sir. Having received this first note, did you receive another?
A. By mail, yes.
Q. To you directly?
A. The next one was addressed to me at our home in East Amwell Township.
Q. Note No. 2?
Mr. Wilentz: May I have that note, please?
Mr. Wilentz: Has your Honor any objection to indicating to counsel what time your Honor expects to adjourn so I can regulate my examination accordingly?
The Court: If it would suit the convenience of counsel, I would be willing to adjourn quite speedily. I think the room is quite warm. Does counsel prefer it?
Mr. Wilentz: I would like to get one breath of fresh air within the next half hour, but if there isn’t any objection, I should like to just finish with this note and then continue in the morning, if it meets with your Honor’s convenience.
The Court: That I think will be satisfactory.
By Mr. Wilentz:
Q. Will you take a look at that envelope, please, Colonel Lindbergh, and this note and see if that isn’t the note which you received second?
A. This is the envelope which contained the second note and this is the second note contained in the envelope. There are some initials on there that have been put on since.
Mr. Wilentz: All right, I will describe them. I will offer them in evidence.
I am going to ask the Court, please, if you don’t mind—I don’t want to be offensive either to the Court or counsel or the press, but I would appreciate it, even though this is the last minute of this testimony, if the people in the room would remain here until we get through, so there won’t be this apparent confusion that we are meeting with back there.
The Court: Yes, that is an entirely proper request. It won’t be long now before we take an adjournment and there is no reason in the wide world why everybody who is in the courtroom now should not remain here until the Court has adjourned. The people will observe that order and keep quiet so we can all hear.
(The envelope referred to above was received in evidence and marked State Exhibit S-19.)
(The note referred to was received in evidence and marked State’s Exhibit S-20.)
Mr. Wilentz: Exhibit S-19 then is an envelope addressed to Mr. Colonel Lindbergh, Hopewell, New Jersey, and note No.2—we will refer to this as Exhibit S-20—
The Court: That has been offered in evidence.
Mr. Wilentz: And marked.
The Court: No objection. It will he admitted.
Mr. Wilentz: Exhibit S-20 reads:
“Dear Sir: We have warned you note,”—n-o-t-e—“to make anyding,”—a-n-y-d-i-n-g—“public or notify the police. Now you have to take the consequences. This means we will hold the baby until everything is quiet. We can note, n-o-t-e—make any appointment just now. We know very well what it means to us. It is really necessary to make a world affair out of this or to get your baby back as soon as possible. To settle this affair in a quiet way will better for both. Don’t be afraid about the baby. The lady taking care of it day and night. He also will feed him according to the diet. Singture on all letters with an arrow pointing to the circles and the red dot and the holes. We are interested to send him back in gut”—g-u-t—“Ouer”—o-u-e-r—“ransome was made up for 50,000”—with the dollar mark afterwards—
“But now we have to take another person to it and probable have to keep the baby for a longer time as we expected.”
I want you to watch that point.
“So the amount will be 70,000”—with a dollar mark after it—“20,000 in 50$ bills, 25,000 in 20$ bills, 15,000 in 10$ bills, and 10,000$ in 5$ bills. Don’t mark any bills or take them from one serial number. We will inform you later were”—w-e-r-e—“to deliver the money.” They—h-t-e—the money—m-o-n-y—“But we will note”—n-o-t-e—“do so until the police is out of this case and the pappers—” p-a-pp-e-r-s—“are quiet. The kidnapping was prepared for weeks so we are prepared for everything.”
Mr. Wilentz: May we then at this time adjourn until tomorrow morning?
The Court: The Court will take a recess, but I will ask everybody to remain quiet, standing or sitting where they are until the jury has retired. The jury may now retire. Has the jury retired?
Court Crier Hann: The jury has gone out
The Court: The prisoner is remanded in the custody of the Sheriff. He may retire.
(Whereupon at 4:13 p. m., the Court adjourned until tomorrow morning, January 4th, 1935, at 10:00 a. m.)