The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax
"The Night the Lindbergh Baby Disappeared"
by Seth Moseley
Yankee Magazine, March 1982
(submitted by Sue Campbell)
This reporter has never forgotten those four years, for luck -- plus nerve and verve -- led me to
Colonel Lindbergh for the first interview relating the earliest hours of the horror he and his wife shared...
The ambassador's son, Dwight, Jr. and I were fraternity brothers and good friends...
On the night of March 1, a Tuesday, it rained in New York. We turned in early.
As I slept, a crack Associated Press reporter, Sam Blackman -- later an AP executive -- finished his stint covering the state legislature then in session in Trenton and went back to the capitol press room...
"Lindbergh baby kidnapped!" an editor shouted.
Blackman ran to his car and drove to Hopewell. He knew the obscure road that
snaked three miles north of town to the Lindbergh estate. He'd been there
before for a story or two. The father, mother, and child were the best-known
family in the world...
The next morning 5 A.M., the phone rang in [Mosley's] room. The Lindbergh baby
is stolen," said Al Williams, the "overnight" editor. "You know young Dwight
Morrow, we hear. He's in the Lindbergh house. Get out to Hopewell, New Jersey,
and see Lindbergh and phone me." I asked him where Hopewell was...
In Hopewell, veteran reporters from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
were in the village, pinned down by 200 state troopers. The "sensational"
dailies -- the tabloids -- were there in full editorial force. No one could
break through the cordon of police. I wrote a note: 'Dwight, May I see you for
a minute? I'm with the Journal. Seth Moseley.' A trooper took the note and
drove to the home. Young Morrow was not in the house, but 20 minutes later a
Franklin sedan pulled up. The driver told me to get in. There was a rifle on
the rear seat. The driver wore a black jacket and gray trousers. We drove a
mile toward the Lindbergh house and stopped. The man turned toward me.
It was Charles Lindbergh.
"What do you want?" He was abrupt, cool. I said I'd like his version of what
had happened -- from the start.
"I have no reason to talk to you," he said. "I don't like your publisher
[William Randolph Hearst] Publicity is hurting us. The less we're in the
newspapers the more chance we have of finding Charles. I have nothing to say."
I told him I had a job to do. I knew nothing, I said of his relationship to
Mr. Hearst. I said the kidnapping was a matter of public record. He was
adamant about not talking. But when I said that if he declined to talk to me
150 reporters would descend on him in 60 minutes, each demanding an audience,
My notes are long gone now, and neither the New York Public Library nor the
Hearst organization has a copy of New York Evening Journal's "Extra" with a
page 1 interview descending in vertical columns under the headline:
"I was a gulping 22-year-old cub reporter. But I asked questions. "When did
you know the child was missing?" I asked.
"Sometime after nine o'clock last night. The boy's nurse, Betty Gow, came
downstairs. I was I the library. Mrs. Lindbergh was upstairs about to retire.
Miss Gow had gone into the baby's room, for he had a cold and she wanted to
check him. The child wasn't there. She went to Mrs. Lindbergh and asked her if
she had the child. She didn't. Then Miss Gow came downstairs and asked if I
had him. The child was gone."
'Was there any immediate clue in the child's room?"
"Yes. There was a note propped up on the radiator under the southeast window.
It was a ransom note, but I didn't' open it right away. Thought there might be
Whatley [Oliver Whateley, the butler] telephoned the Hopewell police. A few
minutes later I called the state police in Trenton and reported the child
Lindbergh said he then got his rifle and made a thorough search of the
grounds, he and Whateley carrying flashlights, before and after police
arrived. Meanwhile, his wife, the nurse, and Elsie Whateley, the
cook-housekeeper who was the butler's wife, covered all 12 rooms of the house,
the cellar and attic, and the garage.
"Before Mrs. Lindbergh went upstairs -- we had been sitting in the living room
earlier -- I heard a sound outside, a sound like a box falling, wood hitting
other wood. But it was a windy night and we ignored the sound."
Lindbergh revealed that the two Hopewell policemen who responded "very
quickly" -- Harry Wolfe and Charles Williamson -- discovered two holes pressed
into yellow clay beneath the nursery window. There were also footprints "but
they were blurred.
"The Hopewell police officers found parts of a ladder, in three sections. One
of the rungs and one of the rail were split. And they found a chisel. Perhaps
if had been brought to pry open a window. But the nursery window was not
New Jersey state police, under Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf, had arrived
"One of the state police, a fingerprint man, put on gloves and went over the
envelope for fingerprints. He didn't find any."
"What did the note say?"
"It asked for $50,000, but right now I can't discuss the rest of the note."
"Who would want to take your child, Colonel Lindbergh?"
"I don't know. More than one person, I believe. A gang of professionals, I
Lindbergh drove me back to a group of state troopers and let me out. He didn't
say good-bye. We never spoke to each other again.
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