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Ghosts of Hopewell

Ghosts of Hopewell

Setting the Record Straight in the Lindberg Case

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Jim Fisher


5.5 x 8.625, 21 illustrations


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About the Book

In this illustrated examination of the Lindbergh kidnapping case, Jim Fisher seeks to set the record straight regarding Bruno Hauptmann's guilt in "the crime of the century."

In February 1935, following a sensational, six-week trial, a jury in Flemington, New Jersey, found German carpenter Hauptmann guilty of kidnapping and murdering the twenty-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. Although circumstantial, the evidence against Hauptmann—the handwriting on the ransom notes, the homemade kidnapping ladder, Colonel Lindbergh's money found in his garage, his matching the description of the man who accepted the ransom payoff in the Bronx cemetery, his inability to prove an alibi, and his incredible explanation of his possession of the ransom money—was overwhelming, leaving few to doubt his guilt. After a series of appeals and stays, Hauptmann died fourteen months later in the electric chair. A confession would have spared him the death sentence, but Hauptmann chose to die maintaining his innocence.

It was not until the mid-1970s that revisionists began to challenge the conventional wisdom in the case: that Hauptmann was the lone killer. Revisionist books and articles appeared, as did plays, TV shows, and a movie, all portraying Hauptmann as the victim of a massive police and prosecution frame-up.

At this point, the focus shifted from the evidence to the conduct of the police. By the 1980s, most people familiar with the case were convinced of Hauptmann's complete innocence. Many denied the murder, believing that the Lindbergh baby remained alive. Several men claimed to be the firstborn son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, one of whom sued to claim his share of the Lindbergh estate after Charles Lindbergh's death in 1974.

Another group held that the kidnapping was an elaborate hoax to cover up the murder of the baby by his parents. Anna Hauptmann¹s series of federal lawsuits against New Jersey and others in the mid-1980s fueled further interest in the case. Although Hauptmann's widow lost all of her lawsuits, she had won the hearts and minds of the American people before her death at the age of ninety-four.

Former FBI agent Fisher discusses the hard evidence, such as the ransom notes and the wood of the kidnapping ladder. He analyzes and debunks the various revisionist theories and presents new evidence that, coupled with the undisputed facts, prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hauptmann was guilty as charged: he kidnapped and murdered the infant son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh.


Jim Fisher, who received an Edgar nomination for Fall Guys: False Confessions and the Politics of Murder, is a professor in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He is also the author of The Lindbergh Case. He was a special agent for the FBI from 1966 to 1972.


“Fisher, a former FBI agent now turned professor, intends to show in this book that the original decision of the judicial system had it right, that the circumstantial evidence against Hauptmann was overwhelming and devastating, and that even new fragments of information tend to confirm his responsibility. The book makes a very good read. . . . Although of course it will not be so, this book deserves to be the last word on a tragic crime.”—Choice

"Fisher examines the contentions of the revisionists and the characters that inhabit their world—the grieving widow, the ballyhooing attorney, and the various pretenders each claiming to be the kidnapped Lindbergh child. He also offers surprising new evidence implicating Hauptmann. But how could Hauptmann have known that the baby would be in an unaccustomed location on the night he struck? And why did Hauptmann never confess when faced with damning evidence against him? Fisher also speculates on these open questions, which remain part of the fascination of this intricate tale of American celebrity, tragedy, and justice."—Patterson Smith, publisher of the Patterson Smith Reprint Series in Criminology, Law Enforcement, and Social Problems

“Fisher, a former FBI agent . . . has—we may very well hope—driven the final nail into the coffin of the Lindbergh revisionists.”—Rapport

“Former FBI agent Fisher offers an arch, engaging rebuttal to a recent generation of Lindbergh conspiracy theorists and to true-crime revisionists generally. . . . This latest addition to the post-Lindbergh flood stands as an entertaining, readable, and comprehensive summation of a dark event and its transcendent cultural afterlife.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Jim Fisher offers a devastating critique of the conspiracy theories that continue to swirl around the ‘crime of the century,’ the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Sifting through the primary sources, Fisher shows that much of the so-called evidence put forth by defenders of Bruno Richard Hauptmann is either misinformation or totally irrelevant. Anyone concerned with the way publishers and the media promote lurid fictions at the expense of historical truth is in his debt.”   —Joyce Milton, author of Loss of Eden: A Biography of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“It is inconceivable to me that any rational person could study the Lindbergh case for more than a few hours and not emerge with a belief bordering on certainty that the evidence against Bruno Richard [Hauptmann] was, and is, too overwhelming to warrant even a single Hauptmann-didn’t-do-it book. . . . [Fisher has] written a fine and needed book.  The revisionist irrationality in the Lindberg case demands point-by-point refutation, and [Fisher] supplied it.”—Gerald Tomlinson, author of  Murdered in Jersey