The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax
The Struggle Over Saliva DNA Tests of Lindbergh Ransom Envelopes
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In December 2002, Mike Holfeld, an investigative reporter with WKMG in Orlando, (see the WKMG links below) attempted to have several of the Lindbergh ransom envelopes tested for traces of saliva DNA. These envelopes, from the 1930s Lindbergh kidnapping investigation, are perfect saliva samples because each one of them had been opened with a knife along the edges. The glued flaps are still, after 72 years, neatly affixed to their surfaces.
An array of photos, like the one above, was taken by Ronelle Delmont at the NJ State Police Archive in West Trenton over a period of several years and the photos will be made available on this page very soon.
The envelopes were entered into evidence and presented at Hauptmann's trial in 1935. They remain locked in a safe guarded by Mark Falzini, archivist of the Lindbergh collection.
Mr. Holfeld, with the backing of WKMG, seemed to have been granted permission by the NJ State Attorney General and was awaiting written authorization to conduct the saliva DNA tests at a laboratory in Massachusetts when he was suddenly advised that the tests could not be allowed. According to portions of a letter he received from the AG's office, these ransom envelopes were designated as "historical documents" by the laws under which the Archive was created. Gov. Brendan Byrne used an Executive Order to establish this Archive - Anna Hauptmann had been suing the State of NJ at the time and, supposedly, these docs were put out to the public to show that NJ had nothing to hide. But, by designating them as "historical" the Gov made sure they could never be "tampered" with.
The story about WKMG's failed attempt to find the truth about this case has yet to be told in full but the question of DNA saliva testing began on this website with a Forum posting in March 2001 from an unknown source that alerted everyone to the possibility of such tests. (Please see the posting and correspondence below)
In the meantime, the Lindbergh family, having discovered the truth about their father's secret life - (he sired at least 5 other children with 2 German sisters in the 1950s! ) - secretly had their lawyers remove all traces of their brother's remains from the W Trenton Museum on May 8, 2003. (See the link about this unknown story below.)
Their fears concerning 5 secret German siblings are, evidently, what drove them to frantically remove all of the possible DNA evidence from the Archive. The German siblings were not exposing their story until August 2003 so the American Lindberghs had enough time to force a quick removal from the Museum in W Trenton. Mark Falzini knew nothing about this and was given only 24 hours to pack it all up.
The Archive no longer contains any forensic items pertaining to the corpse. Since the child's remains had been cremated by Charles Lindbergh almost immediately after its discovery, and no legitimate autopsy was ever performed, there is now nothing left to be used in any future testing. With several dozen "real" Lindbergh baby claimants harassing the Lindbergh family for decades, one might think DNA tests would be the BEST way to get them to stop making such claims. Yet, the Lindberghs have repeatedly refused to put an end to the clamor over the identity of their deceased brother.
The Museum contained, before May 8, 2003, numerous bones and hair fragments left in the soil in which the remains were found and these fragments might have yielded important information, like whether or not the child had any health defects. The question of physical defects is important since Charles Lindbergh was a lifelong Eugenicist and the question of whether or not he'd have tolerated a less-than-perfect child could have been a possible factor in the death of his son. The child, according to its pediatrician, Dr Van Ingen, had rickets - not a disease that afflicts children of millionaire families.
So, the question of a genetic bone disorder - or any other complication that causes rickets - would be important to investigate. It is now, unfortunately too late for that. Even if the Lindberghs were to return al the forensic material to W Trenton no one could trust the outcome of such tests. But, it isn't too late for saliva tests on the envelopes which might - or might not - prove that Hauptmann did not lick the flaps of the sealed envelope found in the baby's bedroom on March 1, 1932.
1/10/02 WKMG Investigates 3/1/03 WKMG New Evidence 4/1/03 More WKMG
8/20/03 Forensic Evidence Removed By American Lindbergh Family
Forensic Files in the Lindbergh Case
Letter to Colonel Dunbar Colonel Dunbar's Reply
The following is a post from The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax Forum
ras (The identity of "ras"
is unknown but all Hauptmann trial researchers are indebted to him/her)
DNA Authority Response to Envelope
Mar 12 2001
I contacted Dr. Robertus van Schie, whose research in DNA retrieval from saliva samples were cited in my original posting, (See "Is there a Possibility" dated 23 Feb 01). Dr. van Schie is now with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. I reiterated the basic contents of my original posting to Dr. van Schie - his response is as follows:
"What an intriguing detailed story you sent me. Of course I feel honored to be asked for my expertise. At the time that I arrived in the USA (1996) to start my research at the University of Buffalo I became interested in the extraction of DNA from easily accessible sources for the simple reason that I had to work with little children's DNA. It's not very nice to being poked with a needle. Indeed it was the Unabomber case that had put me on the right track. At least something good came out of that case as well.
The NIH (National Institutes of Health) was very excited when I published my findings in the Journal of Immunological Methods. They came out with a special press release "Saliva: Your Spitting Image"
and even TIME magazine commented on this 'new' diagnostic tool. Check it out and read the first
sentence of that press release: "When you lick that envelope, you may be sending a more detailed message than you realize. Your saliva leaves a DNA fingerprint that not only says who you are, but also .....". The author of the article told me that he wasn't going to wet envelopes anymore using his own saliva.
We now understand that licking an envelope might be used against you in the
near or even the far future. Currently, here in Roswell Park Cancer Institute,
we are testing whether high quality DNA can be extracted from older saliva.
However this is of course for diagnostic purposes (Cancer Research) and the
samples used have not been around for a long period of time.
To answer your first question, I do think that it is very well possible to retrieve the DNA from that specific envelope. Whether the DNA will have a good enough quality is hard to answer. It is more a matter of giving it a shot, just try it because nobody can guarantee the outcome . The glue used to seal the envelope will not really have had a negative effect on the DNA itself.
Coming to your second question, unfortunately the lab where I work at the moment is not set up for this kind of specialized services. The good news is that there are very good quality forensic labs that can do the testing in a professional way. They can provide you with specific advise how to handle the sample. For example Cellmark Diagnostics, Germantown, MD (http://www.cellmark-labs.com/ForensicFrames.html), did publish a study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 1992 where they describe the isolation of DNA from saliva containing samples, such as envelopes, buccal swabs, gags, and cigarettes. I do not have a connection with them but it is worth contacting them directly. Otherwise there are several forensic labs to be found online.
In order to resolve the matter you will only need to have (beside the DNA from the envelope) a DNA sample from Hauptmann's son (a saliva sample or buccal swab sent by mail will do). In my opinion you don't need to hunt for Hauptmann's DNA to come to a final conclusion.
I hope that I have given you enough information, and I very much wish you all the luck and serendipity to resolve this matter for once and for all.
Robertus van Schie, Ph.D."
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Colonel Carson J. Dunbar
New Jersey State Police
PO Box 7068
West Trenton, New Jersey 08628
Dear Colonel Dunbar,
I am enclosing a reprint of an important message posted recently on my Internet message board,
The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax Public Forum.
My site has generated over 650,000 hits (and, amazingly, more than 150,000 postings) over a two-year period.
Since October 1998 not a single day has gone by without someone offering a thought, a clue, or question concerning the Lindbergh Case. Every re-showing of Ludovic Kennedy’s HBO movie, "Crime of the Century," motivates more and more people to go searching the Internet for answers to very old questions that this disturbing movie was unable to provide – at least, not at the time it was made.
But, as you know, we are now living in a world in which licking an envelope might actually seal a criminal’s doom. I am sure you agree that scientific breakthroughs like Dr. van Schie’s saliva DNA test provide great relief for overburdened law enforcement officers like those under your command. No one could have imagined such possibilities in 1932 and that is why I am asking for your help in outsmarting the liars of the past.
With your permission, to allow Cellmark Labs to do DNA saliva tests on certain envelopes under your authority, 69-year-old questions may finally be resolved. No matter which side of the Lindbergh case people are on their basic mistrust of antiquated forensics is legitimate.
The Lindbergh Case envelopes I am referring to are those associated with the ransom notes (especially the original nursery note), and other correspondence sent by John Condon, Charles Lindbergh and Richard Hauptmann. Withholding such easily available, up-to-date, scientific tests would, in my opinion, serve no purpose other than to cause mistrust, especially since there would be no cost whatsoever to the State of New Jersey.
On behalf of all the people who participate on my message board and the millions who, after viewing continual reruns of "Crime of the Century," will never give up their skepticism about Hauptmann’s guilt, I ask that you please allow the saliva DNA tests on the envelope flaps.
Those envelopes never had any intrinsic value to the case other than their postmarks. Now, amazingly, they hold valuable keys to scientific answers more trustworthy than the human judgments used at Flemington in 1935.
I hope to hear from you and would be happy to resolve any questions you may have concerning this request.
8/20/03 Forensic Evidence Removed By American Lindbergh Family
Ronelle Delmont's Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax Forum
Michael Melsky's Lindbergh Kidnapping Discussion Board
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