The Trial
by Jen Bryant
The Cell Block, located in the Old Jail, consisted of 4 extremely small individual cells. Hauptmann's cell is the first one to the right.
Hauptmann's Cell looking in...
...and from inside the cell

For thirty months, New York Police Detective James J. Finn and FBI Agent Thomas Sisk had been working on the Lindbergh case. They had been able to track down many bills from the ransom money that were being spent in places throughout New York City. A map created by Finn recorded each find and eventually showed that many of the bills were being passed mainly along the route of the Lexington Avenue subway. This subway line connected the East Bronx with the east side of Manhattan, including the German-Austrian neighborhood of Yorkville.

On September 18, 1934, a gold certificate from the ransom money was referred to Detective Finn and Agent Sisk. Although President Roosevelt had issued an executive order on April 5, 1933, calling for all gold certificates to be turned in by May 1, 1933, under the penalty of fine or imprisonment, some members of the public held on to them past the deadline.  As of July 31, 1934, $161 million in gold certificates were still in general circulation. The ten dollar gold certificate was discovered by a teller of the Corn Exchange Bank of the Bronx.  It had a New York license plate penciled in the margin, which helped the investigators trace the bill to a gas station in upper Manhattan. The station manager, Walter Lyle, had written down the license plate number as per company policy, feeling that his customer was acting "suspicious" and was "possibly a counterfeiter".

It was found the license plate number belonged to a blue Dodgesedan owned by Bruno Richard
Hauptmann of 1279 East 222nd Street in the Bronx.  Hauptmann was found to be a German immigrant with a criminal record in his homeland. When Hauptmann was arrested, he had on his person a twenty dollar gold certificate.  A search by police of Hauptmann's home found $1,830 of the ransom money hidden behind a board. Another $11,930 was found in an empty can near a window in the garage. During the police investigation, the garage that Hauptmann built was torn down in the search for the money.
Hauptmann Behind Bars
Hauptmann was arrested by Finn; he was interrogated, as well as beaten at least once, throughout the day and night that followed.  The money, Hauptmann stated, along with other items, had been left with him by friend and former business partner Isidor Fisch. Fisch had died, on March 29, 1934, shortly after returning to Germany.  Only following Fisch's death, Hauptmann stated, did he learn that the shoe box left with him contained a considerable sum of money. He took the money because he claimed that it was owed to him from a business deal that he and Isidor Fisch had made.  Hauptmann consistently denied any connection to the crime or knowledge that the money in his house was from the ransom.

In the search of his apartment by police, a considerable amount of additional evidence that he was involved in the crime surfaced. One item was a notebook that contained a sketch for the construction of a collapsible ladder similar to that which was found at the Lindbergh home in March 1932. John Condon's telephone number, along with his address, were discovered written down on a closet wall in the house. A key linking piece of evidence, a piece of wood, was discovered in the attic of the home. After being examined by an expert, it was determined to be an exact match to the wood used in the construction of the ladder found at the scene of the crime. This particular wood was also traced back to the saw mill where the lumber was processed in South Carolina.

Hauptmann was indicted in the Bronx on September 24, 1934, for extorting the $50,000 ransom from Charles Lindbergh.  Two weeks later, on October 8, 1934, Hauptmann was indicted in New Jersey for the murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. Two days later, he was surrendered to New Jersey authorities by New York Governor Herber H. Lehmanto face charges directly related to the kidnapping and murder of the child. Hauptmann was moved to the Hunterdon County Jail in Flemington, New Jersey, on October 19, 1934.

Hauptmann in Jail
Hunterdon County Jail as it looks today, 2010
Hunterdon County Courthouse, Site of Trial