Bruno Richard Hauptmann's Execution
Request For Reward Money
From "wood expert" witness Arthur Koehler to Gov. Hoffman
In November, 1937, Arthur Koehler sent the following letter to Governor Hoffman of New Jersey:
"Gov. Harold G. Hoffman
Trenton, New Jersey
"Dear Governor Hoffman:
"Recently I noticed a statement in a newspaper that the rewards for conviction of the Lindbergh baby kidnap murderer will be given out to claimants before the end of the year. I never put in a formal claim for any of the reward because I did not know that that was necessary, however I shall do so now. I claim to be entitled to a substantial part of the reward for the following major reasons:
"1. In 1933 I traced two of the upright pieces, or rails, of the ladder to the mill in South Carolina where the lumber from which they were made was manufactured, and from there to the National Lumber and Millwork Company in the Bronx (where Hauptmann had been employed up to the time of the kidnaping and from where he obtained some lumber in December prior to the kidnaping). That was evidence that the kidnaper lived in the Bronx or vicinity since it would not be likely that anyone from a distance would haul such cheap lumber which could be obtained in many places a long way to make the ladder. That information in itself would have been sufficient to lead to Hauptmann's arrest if the police had been more rapid in the investigation of employees of that lumber company upon which they were engaged when the case broke through the passage of some of the ransom money by Hauptmann.
"2. In March, 1933, when I carefully examined the ladder at the request of the New Jersey State Police, I discovered that one of the North Carolina Pine rails and ten of the ponderosa pine rungs were planed on the edges by the same hand plane, which left numerous identifiable ridges due to nicks in the bit of the plane. The fact that two kinds and sizes of pine lumber in the ladder were planed by the same plane indicated that the plane was used when the ladder was made. I told the New Jersey State Police that hand planes in the possession of any suspect should be seized for examination. I found that one of the planes in Hauptmann's possession at the time of his arrest made marks identical with those on the ladder.
"3. In March, 1933, I also noticed that the rail referred to was planed by hand on BOTH edges and still was as wide as the other 1x4-inch rails. From this I concluded that the piece had been a wider tongue-and-grooved or ship-lapped board and in order to cut it down to a square-edged board of the same size as the other five rails, which were standard 1x4-inch stock, it was necessary to rip and plane BOTH edges. I also noticed that the board had four cut-nail holes in it which indicated previous usage, and that the lumber had not been exposed to the weather for any length of time. I told the New Jersey State Police that if they had any suspect in mind to search his premises or the premises he frequented for some place where a low-grade tongued-and-grooved or ship-lapped board had been nailed down with cut nails "in the interior of a crude building, possibly an attic, shop, warehouse, or barn". After Hauptmann's arrest a New Jersey State Police detective acting on this information noticed that part of a tongued-and-grooved 1x6-inch flooring board was missing from Hauptmann's attic. I determined that the four nail holes in the ladder rail matched four nail holes in the joists in the attic from which the board had been removed. I also determined that the grain of the wood in the ladder rail in question and the board in Hauptmann's attic floor from which part had been removed, as well as the planer marks on the two, matched beyond any reasonable doubt.
"4. I also determined that the 3/4-inch chisel found in Colonel Lindbergh's premises on the night of the kidnaping was of the same make and pattern, with the handle made of the same kind of wood and turned to the same pattern as a 1/4-inch chisel in Hauptmann's possession at the time of his arrest.
"I, therefore, claim that I gave the New Jersey State Police sufficient information to have led to Bruno Richard Hauptmann's arrest, and supplied substantial additional evidence that Hauptmann made the ladder, without which evidence he would not have been convicted. The above facts can be verified by reference to my testimony at Hauptmann's trial.
"Very sincerely yours,
"Forest Products Laboratory