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Anna Hauptmann; Wife of Man Convicted in Lindbergh Murder

October 20, 1994| From Times Staff and Wire Reports

PHILADELPHIA — Anna Hauptmann, the wife of the man executed for the kidnaping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh's infant son, has died.

Her death Oct. 10 in New Holland, Pa., was reported Tuesday by the Lancaster New Era newspaper, a nearby neighborhood publication.

She insisted for more than 60 years that Bruno Richard Hauptmann was innocent.

She had spent much of her life trying in vain to clear her husband of what was called the Crime of the Century: the 1932 killing of the 20-month-old namesake of Lindbergh.

Hauptmann, a German immigrant carpenter, was accused of kidnaping the Lindbergh boy from his nursery in Hopewell, N.J. He denied it, and his wife insisted that he was with her the night the child was taken.

Prosecutors said Hauptmann made a ladder to reach the nursery window and the child died when the ladder collapsed. Two months later, the body was found in a shallow grave several miles away.

The evidence against Hauptmann included ransom money found in his garage and a handwriting analysis that indicated he wrote 14 ransom notes.

Hauptmann was convicted in 1935 and executed in 1936.

"God knows that my husband was innocent," she said in 1986 in one of her final interviews. "I'm going to fight for him until the very last. He had to die because people lied. My husband's blood is on their hands in New Jersey."

Her lawyer said documents released in recent years showed that police and prosecutors threatened and bribed witnesses to testify against Hauptmann.

However, Mrs. Hauptmann's lawsuits against the state of New Jersey, alleging fraud and wrongful death, were rejected because of the immunity conferred on prosecutors and because the statute of limitations had run out.

She also appealed in 1986 to the New Jersey Legislature, which said the matter was better left to the courts.

She had recently asked New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, who took office in January, to reopen the case. Whitman has not done so.

Most scholars believe that Hauptmann was guilty.

"I'm absolutely convinced of her sincerity, which is really a testimony to how a person can delude themselves into a false belief," said James Fisher, author of the 1987 book "The Lindbergh Case." "She simply could not accept the fact that she had been married to a man who had done something so despicable."

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