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jdb
Detective Work
Sun Jan 27, 2019 02:36
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Great detective work, Bob (and thank you also). It does seem that placing the LKC firmly in an historical context is the way to go with the case. Indeed, the World War figures in it; and Hauptmann's service in it. That Lindbergh's progressive (albeit isolationist) father was opposed to American involvement in the "war in Europe" is yet another irony is this case so abundant in them from the start.

The entire LKC is like a real life novel; and a great one at that. It's the kind that can truly only really happen in life, as it belongs as much to history (with all due respect to Michael, Ronelle and all the rest), at this stage of the game. To this I suppose I should add truck driver William Allen's (seemingly) adventitious discovery of the child's body in the woods. Also worthy of mention is Ann Lindbergh's father being a college classmate and friend of future president Calvin Coolidge, their shared humble beginnings, and also their shared loss of a son.

The near tabloid aspect of the case adds its own special resonance, as on account of the widespread media coverage there was no way that the criminal investigation could be treated with dignity as to how the events were reported. There's an air of cheapness to the newspaper stories dealing with the case, suggestive an O.J of the Jazz Age. I suppose I'm rambling a bit OT here, although this is, for good or ill, an instance in which being off topic has been itself on occasion become relevant.

Yes, there's matter of the drive toward Princeton rather than New York,--and on such a night!--although I suppose a case can be made for the driver (whoever it was) being unfamiliar with the territory, or simply confused due to the foul weather, or--and sheer speculation on my part--there being a reason for that drive away from the city due to other agenda. Why deposit the child's lifeless body in a place where, on a clear day, the location was, literally, within sight of the Lindbergh estate?

There is also, I imagine, the possibility that, if one can accept Wilentz's case of Hauptmann as the sole perp, Hauptmann being cleverer than one might think, and with counter-intuitive genius deliberately driving in a direction away from whence he came, placing the body in the woods so near to the Hopewell estate as to suggest that the crime was an inside job. If so, this is conferring upon the man a prescience that he did not, in fact, possess, as if true, in the long term, this intricate ruse cruelly backfired on him.

As always with the LKC, the personality of Hauptmann enters into the equation, as one cannot,--or at least I can't--remove him from the crime wholly and accept his Fisch story as gospel. From what one knows of him he doesn't seem clever enough to have pulled off the kidnapping as he did and to have eluded capture for so long, only to be caught with the ransom money in his possession four years later. His lawyer, Reilly, made the excellent point in his defense that the accused in this case cannot be, simultaneously, a criminal genius and a moron.

The aforementioned prompts more musings on Hauptmann: did battle-induced PTSD affect his judgment?. This seems likely. Also, one should not rule out his head injury out as a factor in his life; and not in the LKC alone but generally, during his postwar years in Germany, when he engaged in criminal activity; and in activity contrary to the man we've come to learn about from his time spent in America, which, so far as we know was free from criminal activity of any kind pre-LKC.

It's true that he worked little in the period prior to the kidnapping, apparently made some money from investments. Yet there's nothing that we know of to suggest that he was robbing banks and grocery stores in and around New York. Nor were his close friends known to engage in criminal activity. I can't help but sense something "wrong" with Hauptmann after the war. He was apparently sane, and yet he often showed poor judgment. His marriage to Anna appears to have had a positive effect on him; and yet it was during those years that he presumably kidnapped and murdered the son of America's Favorite Hero.

  • hauptmann the elusivebob mills for jdb and forum, Sat Jan 26 10:44
    Thanks, John. From what I know of Hauptmann's background, he was profoundly affected by the World War and its aftermath. If he had a personality disorder of some kind, it wouldn't excuse a crime but... more
    • Detective Work — jdb, Sun Jan 27 02:36
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