4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
You won’t find any answers to the question posed by the title in this NOVA production. In fact, you won’t even get an unbiased – and certainly not a comprehensive – look at all of the aspects of this case. I have to say I’ve lost a good bit of respect for John Douglas after watching his investigation of the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder case. Douglas, of course, is essentially the best-known criminal profiler in America. I’ve read and been impressed by several of his books; in fact, Douglas’ books had done much to improve my opinion on criminal profiling. This presentation of the Lindbergh investigation, though, has only reinforced my original opinion that criminal profiling has more than a few major bits of hokum associated with it. In this case, Hauptmann happens to match Douglas’ profile of someone capable of committing this crime, so he ignores any evidence that Hauptmann was innocent – and, unfortunately, this type of bias goes on to further undermine Douglas’ whole argument. Douglas isn’t looking for the Lindberg kidnapper(s) – he’s looking for suspects who fit his profile of the criminals.
So let’s start with Hauptmann. Whatever the truth of his story as to how some of the ransom money came into his possession, it should at least be heard – but you won’t hear it here. You also won’t hear anything about how Lindbergh himself and the mysterious Dr. Condon (Lindbergh’s go-between with the alleged kidnappers) suddenly changed their testimony at the trial to directly implicate Hauptmann as “Cemetery John,” the man who took the ransom money from Condon. Personally, I don’t think you can believe anything Condon ever said, but we know that Lindbergh lied on the stand about the man whom he heard say just two words. In his grand jury testimony, Lindbergh said he barely heard “Cemetery John” whisper the words “Hey, doctor” to Dr. Condon (which makes sense, given that Lindberg was sitting in a closed car some three hundred feet away), yet he positively identified hearing the voice of Hauptmann at the trial (just as Condon identified Hauptmann as “Cemetery John,” despite have failed to pick him out of a lineup following his arrest). You won’t hear a word about how Hauptmann’s attorney Ed Reilly was basically in cahoots with the prosecutors to ensure Hauptmann was convicted; his defense of his client (whom he barely even met before the trial) was basically no defense at all. You certainly won’t hear any mention of the discoveries made about the trial over the years – pressured and perjured witnesses, planted evidence, police corruption, political shenanigans, etc. Anyone who knows anything about this circus of a trial knows that it was a total farce – except John Douglas, apparently. He even argues that Hauptmann’s refusal to confess or name co-conspirators, even when offered either money or his own life, came down to an attempt to lessen the stain on the family name in the interests of his son.
Instead of addressing the dubious facts of the case, Douglas spends much of his time going off on tangents. He keeps going back to a man named John Knowles, based solely on one man’s report of his father’s reported memory of hearing Knowles mention the word Englewood (Lindbergh’s wife’s family estate) in discussion with two other men, one of whom was named Bruno. Bruno Richard Hauptmann never even went by the name of Bruno, and computer forensic analysis shows that neither Knowles nor Hauptmann wrote the ransom letters, yet a complete lack of evidence doesn’t stop Douglas from trying as hard as he can to make Knowles a co-conspirator with Hauptmann.
The part of the documentary that will really bother many viewers is the suggestion that Lindbergh himself was involved in the kidnapping. Douglas speaks to Rutgers historian Lloyd C. Gardner about his theory that Lindbergh’s strong commitment to eugenics led him to have his son (who may have suffered from a mild case of rickets) done away with). This theory has virtually no legs to stand on – although I actually do believe there is reason to at least be suspicious of Lindbergh given some of the strange actions he took in the wake of the kidnapping. As for Douglas, convinced as he is that someone inside the house had to have colluded with the kidnappers, he falls back on the tried-and-true fingering of Lindberg maid Violet Sharpe (once again, with no evidence to support the charge).
Who Killed Lindbergh's Baby? represents criminal profiling at its worst, with the investigator ignoring any evidence that gets in the way of making his profile fit the purported criminal. No one should accept Douglas’ conclusions without taking a much more extensive look at the actual evidence for and against Bruno Richard Hauptman’s guilt.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The famous 1932 kidnapping of the son of Charles A. Lindberg has fascinated folks for years and there have been many books. "Charlie" - the "baby" was just 20 months. The accused kidnapper - Bruno Richard Hauptmann was found guilty (and acted alone) and was executed.
This 54-minute NOVA episode takes another look at the case and uses a retired FBI "profiler" to visit the Lindbergh Estate (which still stands in Hopewell, NJ) to investigate whether Hauptman could have acted alone and whether the kidnapping was arranged -in fact - by Lindbergh himself! There are interviews with the author of "Kidnap" - a book on the case - and another retired detective. But much of the show is filled with "recreations" as well as archival footage (nearly equal amounts of both). This show will appeal to those who have long been fascinated with the case but - as with similar show - no actual conclusion can be drawn from the evidence shown and no one is re-opening the case.
As is usual for Nova shows, the quality is high. There are no bonus features/
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
It went south when they brought in some crackpot saying he believes Charles Lindbergh Sr. mastermind the kidnapping. Presented no real additional evidence.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2014
I so wanted to believe that Hauptmann was not guilty. I have read about a dozen books about the crime and its investigation, and agree with Kennedy that there were so many flaws, that Hauptmann was not represented fairly by Reilly, and that just common sense would indicate that faced with the certainty of electrocution Hauptmann would either confess to his part or identify others, to either save his life or at least to gain money for his widow and child when offered a vast sum to confess or help. But subsequent tests by many experts have now pretty clearly identified the board taken from the garage as having been used in the construction of the ladder,whereas the testimony at the time by the expert was suspect. So, Kennedy's version was just as subject to criticism as many of the books and articles written in support of the verdict and non-commutation. The writer plays quite loose with the facts, to serve his own views.