Washington, March 2.--All criminal-detection agencies of the government went into action today to aid in the recovery of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh's son and to bring to justice the criminals who kidnapped him. From the White House to the halls of Congress the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby assumed, from the moment it became known, major importance.
The Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice, the Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service, the Prohibition Enforcement Bureau, the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington and other Federal agencies with police powers were directed to give every possible help to the State authorities in their efforts to arrest the kidnappers and restore the baby to his parents.
The crime was denounced from the floors of both branches of Congress and legislation pending before the Judiciary Committee of the House and the Senate which would make kidnapping, when two or more States were involved, a Federal offense punishable by death went to the top of the committee calendars with every indication of legislative action within the next few days.
Hoover Gets Official Report
President Hoover was one of the first governmental officials to get the official version of the crime. This was early this morning, when Attorney General Mitchell called at the executive offices and discussed the case at length and the measures the government could take to help in the solution of the crime and the arrest of the criminals. Mr. Mitchell later saw the President a second time, after which he announced that the whole machinery of the Department of Justice would be set in motion to cooperate with the New Jersey authorities.
The Postoffice Department, taking official cognizance of the crime, described its interest in the case as "more deep seated than a mere expression of sympathy for the parents and family of the Lindbergh child." Colonel Amos W. W. Woodcock, director of the Prohibition Bureau, wired the chiefs of all enforcing agencies in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware to go the limit in cooperation. The order sent into action 563 prohibition agents.
J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the Bureau of Investigation of the Department of Justice, the backbone of the Federal cooperation, immediately after Attorney General Mitchell's first conference with the President wired to Colonel Schwartzkopf, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, offering 100 per cent cooperation in any direction the New Jersey authorities considered desirable.
"Every officer of the Department of Justice," said Mr. Mitchell, "has the deepest anxiety that the child will be quickly restored to its parents. Every agency of the department will cooperate to the utmost with the State authorities.
"Mr. Hoover, chief of our Bureau of Investigation, has telegraphed to Colonel Schwartzkopf, commanding the New Jersey State Police, offering full cooperation of the department in any way which the State Police consider desirable. Although there is no development to suggest that the case is one within Federal jurisdiction, agents of the department will keep in close touch with State authorities on the chance that the perpetrators of the crime in this or some other activity may have touched Federal authority.
"Bills are pending in Congress to make transportation of kidnapped persons across State lines a Federal offense. Because of budget limitations and recent reductions in appropriations for the detective forces of the department, I have not felt able to recommend such legislation, but I have no objection to such a measure if Congress desires to pass it."
Identification Files Offered
The files of the Identification Bureau of the department will be open to State officers. This bureau holds more fingerprints and other identifications of criminals, violators of both State and Federal laws, than may be found anywhere else in the United States. If, during the investigation by State authorities, fingerprints are found, they will be submitted to Washington for identification.
The department is ready to furnish information to the New Jersey authorities as to such kidnappers as are identified in its "rogues' gallery." All district officers of the Bureau of Investigation throughout the country have been instructed to watch for suspects.
The order to the prohibition personnel in New Jersey, New York and neighboring States was dispatched y Colonel Woodcock early this morning. The telegram to the various administrators in the area covered by the order read:
"I am assuming that the men of your district are doing all in their power to assist the authorities in the recovery of Colonel Lindbergh's child and in the bringing of the culprits to justice. The fine cooperation we have received from Colonel Schwartzkopf's force in New Jersey in the past is an additional reason for cooperation."
Similar instructions were sent by the respective heads of the services involved to commanding officers of the Coast Guard and inspectors of the Customs and Immigration Services on Duty in the Northeastern and New England areas. Meanwhile, the Washington police are keeping a close watch on all traffic incoming by automobile as well as train.
Loesch Urges National Remedy
After his conference with the Attorney General, President Hoover received Frank L. Loesch of Chicago, a member of the Chicago Crime Commission. Mr. Loesch also was a member of the Law Enforcement Commission of which former Attorney General George W. Wickersham was chairman.
Mr. Loesch, after leaving the President, gave it as his opinion that government crime detection agencies were almost helpless before the machinery of professional kidnapping.
"These kidnapping rings operating in the mid-West have spread their activities to the East," he said. "I think the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped by professionals. There is evidence the plot was carried out after months of careful planning. What I believe is needed to eradicate this growing menace to our lives is the formation of a private organization operating all over the country. It should be along the lines of the Secret Six in Chicago. No police officer can be retained without its becoming known. Even the Secret Service officers are known.
"You have to fight the kidnappers in a different way. Private individuals could band together to find out who is back of these rings. The organization should be perfected in each State and then affiliated into a national body. Men would have to lie around for months to get a line on kidnappers through the underworld gossips. Perhaps 20 per cent of the gossip would be useful, but there is where you would get your leads."
House Urged to Enact Law
Representative Hatton W. Sumners of Texas, chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, called his committee into executive session this afternoon to consider the Patterson- Cochran bill, which would make kidnapping, under the interstate laws, an offense punishable by death or long terms in prison. The bill also is pending before the Senate Committee on Judiciary and, if enacted, would make "the transportation of any person or persons, in interstate or foreign commerce, kidnapped, or otherwise unlawfully detained, a felony, punishable by death or imprisonment in the penitentiary for such term of years as the court, in his discretion, shall determine."
When the House convened Mr. Sumners was recognized for the purpose of calling attention to the Lindbergh case.
"Of course," said Mr. Sumners, "you have all seen in the morning papers the great tragedy of an American citizen. It is no more important, of course, than if the humblest child from the humblest home in America had been taken. But it has served to centre the interest of the nation upon the conditions which obtain in America with reference to the terrorism of crime in this country.
"There happens to be at this time pending before the Committee on Judiciary a bill known as the kidnapping bill. I have asked the privilege of speaking for a few minutes in order to do two things. First, to give notice to this country to understand that there is no legislation pending here that can deal adequately with this situation; that it is not a case where Uncle Sam can be depended upon to take care of this situation.
"This transaction ought to make every man and woman in this country determine to clean up their own communities. It is an absolute disgrace to this day and this generation. Members of the House and every man in his home and on the street are afraid, and a bunch of sentimentalists are weeping over these criminals."
Segar Voices Jersey's Plea
Representatives George N. Segar, Republican of New Jersey, followed Mr. Sumners. He said:
"I can think of no crime which tugs at the heartstrings and causes more anguish to a father and mother than the kidnapping of a child. I am glad that a committee at this time has under consideration several kidnapping bills. I appeal to you as a parent and grandfather that when these bills come before the House they will receive support from all members, not only from New Jersey, but from all the States."
The House Judiciary Committee, in its executive session, discussed all angles of the kidnapping problem. The committee did not vote on the bill today but decided to take such time as may be necessary to produce a bill that would squarely meet the problem with the least possible infringement of the rights of States. Mr. Sumners said he expected to present the bill in its present, or possibly amended form, to the House within a week.
Senator Barbour Backs Bill
In the Senate Senator Barbour of New Jersey inquired of Senator Norris of Nebraska, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the status of the Patterson-Cochran bill before that committee.
"In the light of the ghastly tragedy that has befallen one of the most distinguished and beloved families in my State, the dastardly and cowardly kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby from its cradle," said Mr. Barbour, "may I inquire as to the status of the Senate bill introduced by Senator Patterson, which very properly makes kidnapping a felony punishable by either death or imprisonment.
"I am sure the heart of the nation, as well as New Jersey, goes out to this honored family in their hour of anguish. I express the hope that this shocking occurrence will help expedite the immediate passage of this, or any other measure, that may tend to put an end to a crime which I, as a father myself, consider the most horrible of any crime, and even worse than murder itself."
"The bill was referred to a subcommittee and I understand it has been referred back to the committee," Senator Norris replied. "I wish to say that there has been no attempt to delay proper consideration of the bill. There is no doubt that it will be taken up in a very short time, as soon as it is reached on the committee calendar.
"The jurisdiction of Congress in a matter of this kind is very limited. I think it would be confined to cases where persons are taken across State lines. It is to a great extent in the jurisdiction of the various States. The Judiciary Committee will give the Patterson bill as prompt and careful attention as is possible."
Other Laws Are Proposed
A second bill dealing with the kidnapping menace was introduced this afternoon by Senator Steiwer of Oregon. This bill would fix the maximum penalty at life imprisonment.
A bill reported to the House by Representative James M. Mead, Democrat, of New York, chairman of the postoffice committee, would strengthen the proposed control over cases involving the sending of kidnapping, or other threats to commit crime, through the mails. The penalty for such offenses would be a maximum prison sentence of five years, $5,000 fine or both.
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