Anna Hauptmann

Anna Hauptmann's crusade
October 20, 1994
Hunterdon County Democrat

For 60 years from the day the police came to her home and hauled away the man she loved, Anna Hauptmann told whoever would listen that her husband was innocent. Long after the electric chair stopped Bruno Richard Hauptmann from maintaining his innocence, his widow plodded on. She spent the final years trying to exonerate him of one of America's most notorious crimes: the 1932 kidnap-murder of the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Anna Hauptmann's six-decade crusade ended quietly last week in a hospital in Lancaster, Pa., where she died at the age of 95 on Oct. 10, the 69th anniversary of her marriage.

No announcement was made; a local newspaper learned of the death Tuesday, after her ashes were spread over a cemetery in her native Germany that holds her ancestors.

"In my mind, Anna Hauptmann was a heroine," said Robert Bryan, her attorney for 13 years. "She deserved better than what the world gave her."

Mrs. Hauptmann lived her final four years in New Holland, Pa., about 40 miles west of Philadelphia, where she spent much of her life.

She never remarried and she never forgot the man she called Richard. In his honor, she refused to say "liberty and justice for all" when she pledged allegiance to the American flag.

"He was dead, but his spirit, what he stood for, lived on with her," said Mr. Bryan, a San Francisco attorney. "She made her decision to fulfill her obligation to Richard Hauptmann. Her love for him was

Mr. Hauptmann maintained his innocence until his electrocution in 1936. In 1981, Mrs. Hauptmann hired Mr. Bryan, a death-penalty specialist, to help her cause. They gathered evidence to support her claim and persuaded New Jersey to release hitherto secret evidence.

"She said: 'Mr. Bryan, I've been waiting all these years. I don't have any money. I'm not important to society. But you've got to help me clear my husband's name. I owe that much to him before I die,' " said Mr. Bryan.

Through the years, Mrs. Hauptmann maintained the same story: that on March 1, 1932, the night the child was kidnapped -- that "nasty and cold night," as she called it during a 1991 visit to Flemington -- her husband picked her up from the bakery where she worked and the two drove to their home in the Bronx, where they stayed through the night.

"I'm here again fighting for my husband. He was innocent, as innocent as you and me," said Mrs. Hauptmann during her Flemington visit. "My husband was innocent, and God knows it. Is there really a God in heaven? God saw us drive home. Why did He let them do that?"

Her visit to Flemington was her only one since the trial. "I said if I came to Flemington, I don't know what will happen to me," said Mrs. Hauptmann. "When I think what they did to me here, I didn't know if I was strong enough."

During the trial, prosecutors built a circumstantial but strong case. Some of the $50,000 in ransom money was found in Mr. Hauptmann's garage. Handwriting experts testified his writing was on 14 ransom notes.

Prosecutors said Mr. Hauptmann made a ladder to reach up to the Lindbergh nursery, and the child died when the ladder collapsed. The baby's body was found in a shallow grave several miles from the Lindbergh home two months after the kidnapping.

In recent years, Mrs. Hauptmann filed lawsuits alleging fraud and wrongful death, but they were rejected because of prosecutorial immunity and because the statute of limitations had expired. She also appealed in 1986 to the New Jersey Legislature, which said the matter was better left to the courts.

"She used to talk about when she died, she would go to be with Richard," said Mr. Bryan. "But, she said: 'I have a job to do here first. Once this is done, I'll die and go be with Richard.' "So I have to believe that she is with Richard today."

Survivors include a son, Manfred Hauptmann.
Anna Hauptmann and Baby Manfred

Anna Hauptmann, 95, Widow Of Lindbergh Baby Kidnapper
Chicago Sun-Times
October 19, 1994, Ted Anthony

Mrs. Hauptmann, 95, died Oct. 10 at a hospital in Lancaster, Pa. The Lancaster New Era newspaper reported her death on Tuesday.

Mrs. Hauptmann had spent her final years trying in vain to clear her husband of what was called the crime of the century: the 1932 killing of the 20-month-old son and namesake of Charles Lindbergh.
Anna Hauptmann (1898-1994)