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The Lindbergh Baby | Who Kidnapped and Killed Charles Lindbergh III

The Lindbergh Baby | Who Kidnapped and Killed Charles Lindbergh III
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When a police chief and a defense lawyer from a small town in New Hampshire took a closer look at the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping and murder case, they found themselves taking on a legend.

 When a police chief and a defense lawyer from a small town in New Hampshire took a closer look at the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping and murder case, they found themselves taking on a legend.

When a police chief and a defense lawyer from a small town in New Hampshire took a closer look at the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping and murder case, they found themselves taking on a legend.

In the summer of 1990, Gregory Ahlgren had no idea that the next three years of his life were about to be changed by a paperback book.

The 41-year-old defense attorney was sorting through boxes as he and his wife had just moved from their home in Goffstown, New Hampshire, to another in nearby Manchester. In one of the boxes Ahlgren found a 30-year old anthology about famous crimes. It included a story about one of the most notorious cases of the century, the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. The trial had pitted Charles A. Lindbergh, an American icon, against Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a poor German carpenter who was arrested after he passed some of the Lindbergh ransom money. Although Hauptmann was executed for the crime, he maintained his innocence until the day he died. He had some prominent supporters, including the governor of New Jersey, Harold Hoffman. Time had done little to quiet the controversy.

Though faced with a mountain of work, Ahlgren read the article, which raised strong doubts about Hauptmann’s guilt. The kidnapping had taken place on March 1, 1932, in a rural New Jersey town with a two-man police force. The state police force was headed by Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf, a political appointee whose police experience amounted to having once worked as a department store detective and whose son would later become a hero in his own right.

Given the police limitations and Lindbergh’s stature as one of the most famous men in the world, few objected when the aviator took virtual control of the investigation — not even when he threatened to shoot any police officer who disobeyed his orders or when he used his political muscle to discourage the FBI’s involvement in the case.

That bothered Ahlgren. “What I saw in the article,” he says, “was a pattern of a person trying to obscure a crime.”

On a whim, Ahlgren mailed a copy of the story to Stephen Monier, the Goffstown chief of police and a former president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. He attached a note asking Monier what he thought.

Ahlgren can’t explain why he mailed Monier the article. In many respects they are polar opposites. Ahlgren, an unabashed liberal who defends the sorts of people Monier would like to lock up, was once a Democratic state representative. The 40-year-old police chief keeps an autographed photo of George Bush next to his desk.

The pair met in a Goffstown courtroom in the late 1970s. Ahlgren had recently opened a criminal-law practice in Manchester. Monier was not only a Goffstown police officer, but also the town prosecutor.

“Greg was representing some person we’d arrested for a series of thefts,” remembers Monier. “He was very unassuming, almost a hayseed. Then he started to argue.”

The outcome? “He won,” says Monier. ”I’d like to think we’ve evened the score since then.”

A few years later Monier turned to Ahlgren when his father, a prominent politician, needed an attorney. In 1982 Robert Monier gave up his position as president of the state senate to run for governor. In the middle of the Republican primary, he was accused of conspiring to funnel bank funds into political campaigns by a bank official who had himself been arrested for embezzlement.

Ultimately the accusations proved to be false. But the damage was done. Once the front-runner, Monier lost the primary to John Sununu, who became governor. At his son’s urging, Monier hired Ahlgren to file a civil suit against the bank official for damages. Monier’s father committed suicide before the trial. Still, Ahlgren went ahead and won a $100,000 judgment for the estate. Says Monier: ” It was one of the best-tried cases I’ve ever seen.”

Despite their professional ties, Monier and Ahlgren never became social friends. Still, during courthouse breaks and the occasional lunch, they discovered that both were avid readers with eclectic tastes.

Updated Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

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7 Responses to The Lindbergh Baby | Who Kidnapped and Killed Charles Lindbergh III

  1. Paula August 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Very interesting story, now I want to read to the book

  2. Connie Jenkins August 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    I had the pleasure of knowing Chief Monier many years ago when I was a reporter in Goffstown, N.H.
    I’ve read this book and believe the authors made an excellent case about the likely suspect in this baby’s kidnapping and death.

  3. Lynne August 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    It’s not inconceivable that Lindbergh killed his child, accidently or not. After all, he did have a secret family in Germany, so who knows what other secrets he hid.

  4. Mrs. Cleaver January 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

    The fact that the family was at that house on a Tuesday, which had never happened before, leads me to think there was some sort of inside job was involved. Otherwise how would the kidnapper know they were going to be there? On Tuesdays, usually the Lindbergh’s were at their other home. Also that night Mr. Lindbergh “forgot” a speaking engagement & drove home instead, which is odd. I’m not saying I’m sure that Lindbergh himself was involved, just that there are too many co-incidences for this to be a totally random crime.
    I think Hauptmann, in the very least, extorted the ransom money. He hadn’t worked in nearly 2 years, but still lived nicely & they found some of the money in his garage. Also once he was arrested, the spending of the ransom money stopped forever. He’d also been a petty burglar who had used a ladder in previous crimes back in his Native Germany. I don’t think they fried a totally innocent guy.
    I just wonder HOW the kidnapper knew to go to that house, that night. Was it just luck?

  5. Mrs.Gillis March 1, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    I had read that Lindbergh’s son was deformed and his father was upset he wasn’t perfect and he was involved with the kidnapping and his death.

  6. Roberta March 1, 2016 at 11:28 pm #

    My mother was a young adult during this event. She has always said it was inside job, and that a mentally ill family member was the likely kidnapper. (Now I’ll read this account to see its ideas.)

  7. J.L. Simmons July 14, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

    This is a very believable version his(Lindbergh) reputation would have been more tarnished than it already was due to his pro nazi-ism if he had killed his own child even accidentally or if there was something wrong with the child he probably felt that it didn’t deserve to live just like the nazis killed any child that wasn’t considered perfect along with those of Jewish heritage.

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