The Lindberghs begin negotiations with their son’s kidnappers: "We hereby authorize Dr. John F. Condon to act as go-between for us"
Historic original ADS signed “Charles A. Lindbergh” and “Anne Lindbergh,” authorizing John F. Condon to act on their behalf during the 1932 ransom investigation of their kidnapped infant son, Charles, Jr. The handwritten note, penned in ink by Charles Lindbergh on an off-white 7.25 x 3.25 sheet, reads: “We hereby authorize Dr. John F. Condon to act as go-between for us.” The upper right is dated March 10, 1932, marking the day Condon, using the alias ‘Jafsie,’ commenced negotiations with the kidnapper. Impressively matted and framed with portraits of the Lindberghs, engraved information and biography plaques, and an original “Official Pass” to the trial of alleged kidnapper Richard Hauptmann, to an overall size of 38 x 25. In fine condition, with light creasing and intersecting folds.
Charles, Jr., the 20-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, was kidnapped from their home near Hopewell, New Jersey, on March 1, 1932. In his stead, a ransom note demanding $50,000 was found on the windowsill of the child's nursery. Affected by the plight of the Lindberghs, John F. Condon, a well-known Bronx personality and retired school teacher, wrote an open letter to the abductors, offering his services as an intermediary. His letter was published in the Bronx Home News on March 8, 1932, and a day later, he received a letter from the kidnappers acquiescing to his request. Anxious to have their child returned, the Lindberghs hastily signed this offered document that formally authorized Condon to proceed on their behalf.
Condon, who used the newspaper codename ‘Jafsie,’ a name devised from his initials, met with kidnapper, John, twice during the ransom negotiations: first to ascertain the welfare of the child; and later to deliver the ransom money. Both meetings took place in cemeteries. During the ransom delivery meeting on April 8th, Condon was informed that the baby was safe and in the care of two innocent women. The Lindberghs’ worst fears came true when, a month later on May 12th, the corpse of a child was found in a grove of trees within five miles of their family home. Betty Gow, the Lindberghs’ family nurse identified the body as being Charles and a coroner determined the boy had been dead for about two months, the result of a blow to the head.
In September 1934, Richard Hauptmann, a carpenter and illegal immigrant from Germany, was arrested for the crime. During the now famously known ‘Trial of the Century,’ evidence quickly piled up against Hauptmann, including the discovery of ransom money in his garage, items related to the construction of a ladder used in the kidnapping, and paperwork with handwriting and spelling similar to that found on the ransom notes. Given his face-to-face contact with the kidnapper, Condon served as a key witness at the trial and his testimony was seen as crucial to the final verdict. Hauptmann was found guilty and sentenced to death in February 1935, and his execution via electric chair was carried out a year later.