Fingerprints from Lindbergh case found


TRENTON, N.J. -- Lawyers for the wife of the man executed for murdering the Lindbergh baby say they have fingerprints that prove the baby was not killed.

Attorneys for Anna Hauptmann and a man who claims to be Charles Lindbergh's son said Sunday the fingerprints were recently recovered by the state police.


The finding of nine sets of fingerprints, believed to be those of Charles Lindbergh Jr., 'is of tremendous significance,' said Trudy Maran, a New Jersey lawyer representing Anna Hauptmann in her $100 million wrongful death suit filed over the 1936 execution of her husband, Bruno.

That suit, rejected last year by a federal judge in New Jersey, now is before the Supreme Court.

The existence of fingerprints has been confirmed by Col. Clinton Pagano, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, who said, 'We'll have a number of interesting issues to discuss,' at a Tuesday news conference.

The details, however, will not change the verdict, he said.

Hauptmann, a German-born carpenter, was convicted of kidnapping the baby in 1932 for $50,000 in ransom, killing him and dumping the body in a shallow grave near the Lindberghs' Hopewell, N.J., home.


The kidnapping, occurring five years after 'The Lone Eagle' made the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic, galvanized the world's attention.

Although Lindbergh identified the decomposed body as that of his son, no fingerprints were ever obtained.

In the half century since, Anna Hauptmann has maintained her husband's innocence. As many as 25 people have claimed to be Charles Lindbergh Jr.

Robert Bryan, a San Francisco lawyer who also represents Anna Hauptmann and a man who claims to be Lindbergh's son, said the prints may prove the body was not that of Charles Lindbergh Jr.

'These are not the prints that were in state police custody. These are other prints,' Bryan said.

In 1976, he said, state police told him they never had fingerprints. But classified correspondence between state police and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover showed they did, he said.

'The significance is that if they are the child's prints, it will settle whether or not he is Charles Lindbergh Jr.,' Bryan said, referring to his client. 'They could be meaningful or it may be much to do about nothing.'

The papers, which contained the fingerprints, were found in the home of Harold Hoffman, New Jersey's governor at the time of the crime and Hauptmann's trial. Hoffman, it is believed, thought Hauptmann was innocent and borrowed the papers to conduct his own investigation.


The disappearance of evidence has fueled theories that Hauptmann was framed or had accomplices who were never caught.

Former Attorney General David Wilentz, now 90, prosecuted the case and says the jury reached the proper verdict.

Although Hoffman offered to commute Hauptmann's sentence if he admitted guilt, Hauptmann refused. He was executed April 3, 1936, maintaining his innocence.

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