opewell, N. J., March 2.--Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh took personal charge of the hunt for his infant son, Charles Augustus Jr., today, transforming his pretty mountain home near here into field headquarters for an army of searchers.
His wife, the former Anne Morrow, waited anxiously at home, with her mother, the widow of the late Senator Dwight W. Morrow, at her side. Her face, white and drawn, could be seen from time to time peering from the nursery window from which the child was carried down a makeshift ladder and spirited away.
Time and again the famous aviator, wearing boots stained with the mud of Sourland Mountain, on the summit of which he built his secluded country home, raced away with State troopers, only to return and confess that it had been just another wild-goose chase.
Reported Willing to Pay Ransom
He was reported as willing to pay the kidnappers whatever they asked for the return of his 20-month-old son, who, Mrs. Lindbergh revealed, was ill with a cold when he was snatched from his crib and carried off in his blue sleeping robe. She revealed details of the baby's diet in the hope that the kidnappers, for the sake of humanity if not to save themselves, would follow it and thus minimize the chances for a fatal ending to the tragic story.
Pending word from the kidnappers, Colonel Lindbergh was anxious to prevent any well- meant but thoughtless actions increasing the danger of harm coming to his son. At his telephoned request, Governor A. Harry Moore and legislative leaders at Trenton, who were planning to authorize a $25,000 reward for the capture of the criminals, changed their plans.
He likewise was responsible, it was said, for causing a delay on the part of New Jersey legislators who were planning to introduce bills amending the penal law of the State to make kidnapping punishable by death. Such action he thought might result in the death of his son, because kidnapping is a continuing crime and the present offense might come under the provisions of the amended statute.
Family Gets Flood of Messages
Messages of sympathy began pouring into the Lindbergh home by wire and telephone early in the morning soon after Mrs. Morrow arrived. Long before that a horde of newspaper men and women, photographers and motion picture camera men began trekking up the steep, rocky road that leads to the famous aviator's $50,000 home on one of the highest mountains in New Jersey.
Colonel Lindbergh provided quarters for them all in the garage beneath his home and linemen of the telephone and telegraph companies began stringing wires up the mountainside. Oliver Wheatley, the butler; his wife, who acts as housekeeper, and Colonel Henry Breckenridge served coffee to the throng. Colonel Lindbergh was too busy with details of the search, and his wife, who is soon to be a mother again, was too distraught to discuss the tragedy that had befallen them. They asked to be excused from interviews.
Even with the emergency service that was provided the limited communications systems broke down under the strain and it was found that both press messages and official police communications were being hampered.
Colonel Lindbergh then, in the interest of efficiency, asked the newspaper men to leave the estate and arranged to have news of all developments made public in Trenton.
He said: "I am requesting that newspaper men and women and photographers withdraw from the property. The reason for this action is that the local telephone exchange has been swamped with calls impairing the functions of the police to obtain the return of the child. As a substitute it has been arranged with Captain J. J. Lamb of the State Troopers and Governor Moore for the placing of a State trooper in the office of the Governor's secretary in Trenton from where all future information will be given out."
This confession that the communications system of the community had broken down under the tremendous strain of the last twenty hours was made at 5 P.M. The Colonel, his eyes heavy with sleeplessness, his face showing the fearful strain of the night and day just past, read this message to a group of more than 100 men and women.
Colonel Lindbergh was asked if arrangements were being made to treat with the kidnappers, if the family expected to pay them $50,000 for the return of the child and if any note demanding that sum or some other had been received. He refused to answer and referred all matters regarding the search to the State police.
While the Colonel himself, his lawyer and friend, Colonel Breckenridge, would give only evasive answers to any questions, repeating again and again that the police were the ones to talk, it was established nevertheless that the family was awaiting some word whereby they could establish contact with the kidnapper or their representatives.
Rumors flew fast and wild as the day passed. One was that Douglas G. Thomson, former Mayor of Englewood, and Arthur Springer, who was secretary to Senator Morrow, who arrived together among others to render what little assistance they could, had been appointed to negotiate with the kidnappers for the family.
"There is nothing to it," Mr. Springer said. He added that no one had been appointed for negotiations that had not begun. Both came with others to help in whatever way they could. Colonel Breckenridge and Colonel Lindbergh had been on their feet for thirty-six hours including yesterday before the kidnapping and, while they kept on, they are both approaching exhaustion.
Following the grim hours of darkness during which Lindbergh and State troopers thrashed through brush and wood and mire searching for trace on the estate of the kidnappers, the hunt settled down to the exhausting of false clues and to the careful running down of others.
The State police, augmented by detectives from the office of Mercer County Prosecutor Ervin Marshall, started once more from the beginning to investigate the clues. Beneath the east window and near the house directly on the path the kidnappers took, they discovered a chisel, recently used. On the window itself were marks of a jimmylike tool.
Fingerprint experts went to work on the chisel. State Trooper Frank Kelly, fingerprint expert, studied the chisel, which was about nine inches long and had a broken handle. He discovered further that it had not sunk into the soft mud on which it lay, indicating that it had been recently dropped or laid down gently as if in fear of creating a disturbance.
Then the flimsy home-made ladder, which the kidnapper used to climb into the baby's room where he lay asleep, came in for closer attention. On the flat board sides the letters "YP Class D" in faint pencil marks were discovered. No one on the place had seen the ladder. The Lindbergh servants, Oliver Wheatley, combination butler-chauffeur and general handy man, his wife who is the cook, and the baby's nurse, Betty Gow, could not remember having seen it before.
No one else remembered the ladder, and when the markings were discovered indicating, according to the troopers, the classification of this particular bit of yellow pine by a definite dealer, they at once set out on a tour of all lumber yards and mills in this part of the State in attempt to find some one who might have sold the lumber to the kidnapper.
Frail as this clue is, it is the best that has been discovered today.
One more possible clue came to light late in the day when Harry Conover Jr. and his 77- year-old father who farm an adjoining property south of the Featherbed Road, declared that they had both seen the lights of a car in the lane about 6:30 last night.
The lane itself enters the highway that passes the Lindbergh home at a point about three- quarters of a mile in direct line from the house itself. The two roads bound the section of the estate, Featherbed on the south and the Wertsville-Stoutsburg highway on the east. Still further south on a hill, about a quarter mile from Featherbed Lane, is the Conover home. The father saw the automobile from the kitchen window. The son also saw the lights, he related, and both said the car, after moving slowly toward the junction of the lane with the highway a short distance, stopped and the lights were turned out.
"I went outside," said Harry Jr., a tall farmer of perhaps forty years, with a high pitched excited voice. "I feared they were fast in the mud and might need help. When I heard no more noise I decided they were all right and though no more about it until this morning when I heard the baby had been taken up to Lindbergh's."
Mrs. Conover declared she feared chicken thieves when she was told about the lights and was relieved today when she found her henroosts intact.
Plane Searches the Region
Aviation played its part in this grim battle with unknown evil forces today. Major Thomas Lanphier, president of the Bird Aircraft Company and a close friend of the family, piloted a plane in which Sergeant Harry Campbell and a trooper were passengers back and forth at a low altitude over the thousands of acres of the Sorrel range, in which Sourland Mountain is the highest spot.
After two hours of flying they dropped down over the house and Lanphier tossed out a message to the family. In the midst of a football scrimmage, in which reporters and troopers were pitted against each other, a trooper recovered it and hurried into the white house on the hill. It merely said that they had covered the region as closely as possible and had seen only a broken-down automobile three miles to the north, half hidden among the tree. After landing at Mercer Airport in Trenton, Campbell hurried to the spot by machine and found an old abandoned Essex car, which had not been driven for many months.
But airplanes for the most part contributed little to aid in the search for the kidnapped baby of the world's most famous airman. Yet they buzzed over the house from dawn until dawn. Early this morning airliners bound for Washington circled the hilltop, banking steeply in order that the passengers might gaze their fill at the stricken home.
While all these things were going on, contributing little or nothing to the task of finding a clue to the missing child, the clue that appeared most likely to show some results, but which conflicted with the plan to treat with the kidnappers had its quota of hunters.
A count disclosed that between forty-four and fifty persons had been employed in preparing the land and building the home for the Lindberghs. The manner in which the kidnapping had been carried out indicated that some one familiar with the design of the house, with exact knowledge as to the location of the nursery and even the routine of the baby's daily life, had planned it.
The police at once started a search to locate every single man and woman who had been employed. The contractors who built the house, Conover & Matthews of Princeton, were called on to help. It is hoped that they may be able to furnish specimens of the handwriting of all employes through signatures on payrolls and canceled pay checks. Handwriting experts will study all the handwriting thus obtained, while police will seek out the men themselves.
Here the mysterious note whose existence was disclosed through police sources last night and concerning which nothing is said today, may play its part. Its scribbled lines will be compared with the handwritings assembled in the hope that through similarities thus discovered, the kidnappers may be traced.
The family servants, it was disclosed, have been with the Lindberghs for a long time. Wheatley, the English butler-chauffeur, has looked after their home ever since they leased their first home at Montrose while the new estate was being assembled. The house was completed last Fall.
Miss Gow, the nurse, has been with the family more than a year and has had much of the care of the child since his early months.
Both the police and members and friends of the family appear to feel that the loyalty of these employees is beyond doubt.
Last night, with Colonel Breckenridge as his assistant, Wheatley made gallons of coffee and sandwiches for the shivering reporters and troopers. Between these extra duties he answered telephones and ran about at a dog trot upstairs and down on errands. This morning, after the visitors had consumed all the milk on the place, he hurried to town to purchase more milk, coffee and provisions, and through the day on frequent occasions great cans of coffee and bundles of sandwiches were lugged by Wheatley and volunteer helpers into the garage, which had been turned over to troopers and newspaper men for a waiting room.
Sometimes Colonel Breckenridge beckoned to those outside and again Colonel Lindbergh himself summoned some one from the crowd to come in and help.
Visitors Call on Family
During the day there were visitors who came to offer sympathy and help. Early in the morning Mrs. Dwight W. Morrow and Miss Elizabeth Morrow drove from Englewood to stay with the Lindbergh family. Shortly after noon President John Grier Hibben and Mrs. Hibben drove over from Princeton and made a short call. With the Morrows was Richard B. Scandrett, a cousin of Mrs. Lindbergh, who came, as did Mr. Thompson and Mr. Springer, to stay and relieve Colonel Breckenridge and Colonel Lindbergh as much as possible.
The Lindbergh home stands close to the crest of Sourland Mountain and in the centre of an estate of 450 acres or more. To the south, east and west fields that have lain fallow for several years' stretch to untenanted buildings. The meadows and pasture land are dotted here and there with thickets and small groves of slim dark cedars. To the north the mountain, which is little more than a rough hill, is thickly wooded with second-growth hardwood and more cedars. The Colonel selected a spot on the verge of this timbered land and perhaps two acres were cut out for the house and its immediate surroundings.
There has been no attempt so far to create a finished glossy plantation like the big estates on Long Island. The Colonel, flying back and forth over the region during the last four years, selected on his airways map the sections that pleased him and said to his representatives, "I want you to buy that."
It meant the purchase of many small holdings and several large farms, both in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties. The house itself is almost on the county line.
To reach the house from the concrete highway that runs eight miles or so between Princeton and Hopewell one must climb a crude country road that twists and winds up the valley from the outskirts of Hopewell for about three miles. Closely bordering the estate, the Reading Railroad cuts a straight level line through the hills on its southerly side.
Driving up from Hopewell for two miles before the new road leading from the rough highway up the place the white stone house is visible, a white landmark by day and now a beacon, with its windows all alight, after nightfall.
The near neighbors are farmers. After driving up and down for two miles nearly due east the road turns sharply north, joining the Wertsville-Stoutsberg highway. For this last mile, save for the Conover place, the highway has on its left the Lindbergh lands. Near the entrance to the winding cinder lane leading up to the house is the home of Nelson Wyckoff, 65 years old, who for a time was the watchman at the entrance. Last night Colonel Lindbergh went to his home in his first hasty search and Mr. Wyckoff, who has been ill, got up and spent the night trudging through the fields and calling on his neighbors for news of the "little feller."
At the entrance to the lane stands an empty decaying red farmhouse, through which the Colonel searched last night.
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