The  Lindbergh  Kidnapping  Hoax 

   Why Did You Kill Me?   by  Richard Hauptmann  

     May 2, 1936  Liberty Magazine    

  Why Did You Kill Me?

I am writing this literally within the shadow of the electric chair. For upward to fourteen months I have been confined in the cell nearest to the execution chamber in the New Jersey penitentiary. The courts of New Jersey have now said that I shall die on the night of April 3, and that I shall die in the chair that is just beyond the door that faces me and has faced me every waking hour of my life these past fourteen months. The courts have said that on the night of April 3 I shall be prepared to leave the cell which has been my home; walk through the door which has been facing me these weary months; tread the few steps that lead from that door to the electric chair; that on that night I shall be led out on a walk from which I shall never return. 

[ACLU Execution Watch 

When I rise to join in that last deathly procession, I shall walk as any man walks, striding along one foot ahead of the other. I shall breathe the air my guards are breathing. I shall hear things that are being said, with ears that are as the ears of other men. I shall say with a voice that is the same as voices of other men that a tragedy is being enacted, that a life is being wantonly taken, that I am innocent of the crime of which I have been convicted, as innocent as any one in the world; and then, if the decision of the court is carried out, I shall be strapped into the chair, and in a few fleeting seconds this body that is mortal will be no longer living and breathing but just a mass of clay. 

And I ask, WHY? Why must this thing be? Why should this thing happen? Why should the State of New Jersey take from me that which is most precious to all men - life? Why should they widow my loyal wife and orphan my lovely baby? Every hour, every day, since the Flemington jury rendered their verdict, I have asked myself that question. I am as innocent of the crime of killing the Lindbergh baby or even the slightest participation in that or any crime like it, as any one who reads this. 

I cannot think how right-minded people anywhere could, being in full possession of the facts that have been presented, imagine even for a moment that I could in any way be connected with the dastardly crime which was committed. Permit me, then, in a little of the time left to me, to review very briefly the things which have led me where I am. 

As a boy in Germany I knew hardship. I saw the result of the dissipation of funds earned on drinks and other riotous things in the case of my father. I then and there resolved that I would ever do my utmost to be honest, reliable, and upright, so that some day I might take my place, an honest one, an honorable one, in society, and that by industry and thrift I might prosper, and that someday I might meet some fine girl to whom I could be wed, and that by diligence and thrift we might make ourselves a home in which to rear our family. I had no thought that I ever would be more than an honest, diligent, upright citizen, a faithful husband and, if it should please God, a loving father. 

Is there anyone that can't see that I could not be guilty of this crime? Let us go over for a moment, if you please, the testimony which was used against me. It may be divided into four principal parts. First, identification witnesses who appeared against me. Second, the ransom money found in my possession. Third, the handwriting testimony presented by the state. Fourth, the testimony of the so-called wood experts. 

As to identification witnesses, it appears to me that by this time every one must realize that the testimony of Hochmuth and Whited, the only two witnesses really used to place me in New Jersey at any time close to the date of the crime, has certainly been completely knocked down. Hochmuth testified that in a fleeting second he saw and recognized me in an automobile as I passed by his home, and that he saw a ladder in my car. This man has been proven, since, to be one who did not live where he testified he did, but who lived in New York City. He was about eighty-seven years of age, and it has come out that he was on relief in New York City, and that at the time he was receiving relief he was suffering from cataracts of both eyes, and his vision was thus seriously affected and he couldn't recognize from day to day people he saw every day.    

It was further brought out, I understand, in affidavits by disinterested parties, that Hochmuth could not tell a piece of wood from a piece of stone as they lay before him. Then he himself has said now that he never saw any suspicious person about the neighborhood of the scene of the crime. In the face of this, could there be any doubt but that Hochmuth has been entirely discredited? 

As to the witness Whited, who testified that on two occasions just before the kidnaping he saw me right near the Lindbergh home - it has since developed that on April 23, almost two months after the night of the kidnapping, in a written statement given to the New Jersey State Police, Whited swore he had not seen any strange person about the Sourland Mountains immediately prior than the kidnapping. This statement was made to a New Jersey State Police officer, and apparently was made voluntarily. 

Whited also testified that, before he was induced to come over to New York where he claimed to recognize me, he was shown pictures of me over a period of two days, and he also admitted that he was promised one third of a reward of $25,000 offered by New Jersey to the person who brought about the arrest and conviction of the Lindbergh kidnaper; that he was promised $35 a day for the time he spent; and that he was promised certain other rewards by the State Police. 

It develops that the very careful State Police of New Jersey, who had been so exceedingly careful about everything else, had failed to take any statement from Whited on the night of the kidnaping when he told them the story of seeing some one there, and the only statement in their file was a statement in which Whited said he had not seen any strange or suspicious person about the Sourland Mountains. I have always had to wonder in the face of that statement why the State Police ever went back to see Whited after my arrest. The facts as related here are undisputable, as an examination of the record of the State Police will, I believe, prove. Very clearly, no reputable eyewitness has ever placed me within the State of New Jersey at, before, or after the kidnaping. 

Then, unexpected like a lightning bolt or earthquake, came my arrest for the murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. It is impossible to describe how I felt when I realized that I was being charged with that most dastardly crime of all times. It must all be a joke, it must all be a farce, all some horrible mistake! I knew nothing about the Lindbergh baby. I knew nothing about the ransom money. I knew nothing about that crime or any crimes in connection with it, and I confidently expected that within a day or two I would be returned to my home, my wife, and my baby. 

But no such thing happened. I was not returned but was extradited to New Jersey, tried for the murder of this child, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to death; and, despite every effort on the part of my counsel, my conviction has been upheld and I am now near the day upon which the law says I must die. 

But what of the Friedricksons, who said I was always in the bakery on Tuesday and Friday nights? March 1 was on a Tuesday. What of my wife, honest and loyal and an upright Christian woman to whom truth is sacred? What of the young man Carlson, against whose character not a bit of evidence could be found? What of Louis Kiss, who definitely knew the night he saw me and could fix it by two separate events both of moment in his life? What of von Henke? What of Manley, the old man who arose from a sickbed to come and testify that on the night of March 1, at nine o'clock in the evening, he saw me in the Friedrickson bakery? 

I had no money to hire these witnesses. The State of New Jersey spent thousands of dollars. Money flowed like water in their effort to convict me. Thousands were spent to bring the Fisch family to America. There was no such incentive for witnesses to testify for me. There was no entertainment in the Hotel Hildebrecht for my witnesses; no expensive tours to Coney Island and visits to the theater as was provided by the State to the Fisch family. Not one five-cent piece was paid to them except their bare traveling expenses from New York City to Flemington, New Jersey. And yet witness after witness, interested solely that justice be done, came forward of their own accord and testified as to where I had been. But, apparently, the jury could see but one side of this case. 

What of the testimony showing that I had worked the afternoon of April 2 until five thirty in the afternoon on a carpentry job in downtown New York? Is that the action of a man who has a plan of action for nine o'clock that will get him $50,000? As I listened to the testimony of the witnesses produced in my behalf, none of whom were known to me personally, bar my wife and Mr. Kloppenburg and possibly one or two others, I felt very happy, because I could not conceive in the face of such overwhelming proof that I could be held as the kidnaper of the Lindbergh baby. I was to learn to my bitter sorrow just how mistaken I really was. 

And so I sit, ten feet removed from the electric chair, and unless something can be done to aid me, unless something can be done to make some one tell the truth, or unless some one does tell it, I shall at eight o'clock Friday evening, in response to the call from my keepers, raise myself from my cot for the last time and shall walk that "last mile." I suppose there will be in that chamber some of those who have had part in the preparation of my case for the prosecution. It is my belief that their suffering, their agony, will be greater than mine. Mine will be over in a moment. Theirs will last as long as life itself lasts. 

Fingerprinting Hauptmann   Extradition Hearing  Bronx Supreme Court

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Confiscated  items Hauptmann in Custody

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