Cemetery John, Who Was He?
Sat Dec 15, 2018 03:48

I think that a good deal of how we view the early part of the case, prior to the child's body being found is, almost of necessity, based in larger part than is wise to assume, on "Condon's version" of the story. The dealings with Cemetery John are nearly wholly Condon (or in Condon's imaginings) related. So much of the case against Hauptmann comes from Condon, by which I mean not just his testimony,--that's bad enough--but his dealings with the foreign guy he negotiated with for little Charlie's return on those cold nights in the graveyard.

Take away Condon,--whaddaya got? It's not like there was someone standing nearby, or close enough to actually witness if not actually hear clearly, Condon's dealings with the man he called John. A guard saw something, a while later; Lindbergh caught a glimpse of this and that; and he heard a voice maybe. If, as as a hypothetical, Condon's dealings with Cemetery John were entirely related by him, with no Lindbergh near the end game, and Lindbergh been absent from the ransom negotiations (for the sake of argument here), and the ransom payment went down with "just Condon" and the John guy, when we fast forward to the discovery of the body in the woods, by this stage of the game (and I mean no disrespect in using the word game), whatever would happen later may as well be a fairy tale made up by a retired, elderly school teacher.

If the Lindbergh case continued, as it did, with the arrest of Hauptmann in the Bronx in September, 1934, while Condon would still have told the cemetery story, he'd also have been a prime suspect in the case for over two years, as aside from the notes and letters there's no real evidence that the graveyard negotiations and transfer of money happened as Condon said it did if Lindbergh hadn't been present at or near the scene. (Yes, I'm aware of some improbabilities and "impossibles" here as to the extreme unlikelihood of the authorities allowing Condon to "go it alone" with little in the way of corroboration. This strikes me as near impossible; however, what I'm putting forth here is the issue of the entire LKC as we know it being based on one man, John Condon dealing with another-- Cemetery John--whose very existence was questionable until the police put him together based on what Condon told them.)

Again, all I'm putting forth here are hypotheticals, mini-theories if you will, to put the LKC in a different perspective. It's understood and agreed upon by all that the entire Lindbergh kidnapping tragedy as we know it couldn't have happened if Condon hadn't "gone to the cemetery' (that he went at all at least has been corroborated). Then there's his tale of Cemetery John, who,after Hauptmann's arrest, was connected to him; and of course Hauptmann had all that ransom money in his possession. Even if what happened was close to what I've been saying, Hauptmann would have been in a tight spot indeed. Yet I wonder if the case that David Wilentz made against him would have (or even could have) been made quite the same way; and even if he had, would the jury have bought it? All this brings me back to the issues that Nat raised. While I wouldn't go so fair as to say that Lindbergh's testimony was the final nail in Hauptmann's coffin as defendant, it was a game changer all the same; the icing on the cake. I believe the jury was polled on this and what they said was near to this. Others have suggested that the mere presence of Lindbergh in the courtroom was a factor in Wilentz's favor in his prosecution of Hauptmann.


  • In my humble opinion, I would blame Reilly for CAL's testifying and Reilly not rebutting. A defense lawyer's job is to zealously and aggressively defend his client. Reilly could have recreated my... more
    • Cemetery John, Who Was He? — jdb, Sat Dec 15 03:48
      • cemetery johnbob mills for john b and forum, Sat Dec 15 13:06
        I believe Cemetery John was Isidor Fisch, for the following reasons: 1. Jafsie said C.J. had a "hacking cough." Fisch had tuberculosis. That connects. 2. Hauptmann showed no fear of being apprehended ... more
        • bob mills for john b and forumtanialee, Mon Dec 17 22:03
          Have to agree with you Bob that CJ very well was Isador Fisch and because of the reasons you have mentioned here which were spot on I'd say. Everything adds up the way you've stated it but of course, ... more
          • hauptman vis a vis cemetery johnbob mills for tanialee, Fri Dec 21 18:35
            Thanks, Tanialee. I've been intrigued by the fact that folks here don't view the LKC through Hauptmann's eyes. Was he a bad guy? Sure he was. But did he sacrifice himself? I doubt it. How can we... more
        • Cemetery Johnjdb, Sat Dec 15 15:18
          Good points, Bob, and thanks for responding. My issues with Fisch has been with his height, way shorter than what Condon noted for CJ; and his apparently slightly Yiddish inflected German accent,... more
    • "Hey Reilly!"bob mills for nat weiner and forum, Fri Dec 14 10:46
      Reilly should have drilled home the point that Lindy's courtroom testimony contradicted his prior statement that he didn't think anyone's voice could be identified from the distance between him and... more
      • For Nat, Bob & Othersjdb, Sun Dec 16 13:10
        Whenever I've discussed the LKC with people, usually aging family members, who remembered Lindbergh's "heyday" as a national celebrity well, including his transatlantic flight, the kidnapping, his... more
        • lindy and the publicbob mills for forum, Mon Dec 17 11:01
          Lindy's iconic status with the public exceeded anyone else's in public life at the time. What is often overlooked is that the LKC altered the public's (and the law's) view of kidnapping as a criminal ... more
          • Reilly's Choicejdb, Mon Dec 17 19:37
            Hi Bob, So true about Lindbergh's hero status. It's almost like he was the last star of the silent screen; and his stardom continued into the "talkie" era. On the other hand, and for the same reason, ... more
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