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Inspired by the infamous Lindbergh baby kidnapping and subsequent trial in the early 1930s (story below), Rail 16 is a fascinating 49-minute work for mixed ensemble by jazz and new music composer, Dave Lisik.
The kidnapping and murder on March 1 1932 of the child of the world’s most famous man triggered the modern era of media. In typical one-dimensional fashion, Charles Lindbergh became an American hero and achieved a unique level of international fame for his solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927. The story of the kidnapping of his child, subsequent investigation and eventual trial, had, through circumstance or embellishment, all of the elements of intrigue found in the best fiction, including the involvement of U.S. Presidents, ulterior motives on the part of many of the participants of the investigation, including Lindbergh himself, and a large number of conspiracy theories that still surround any analysis of the case today.
The baby was taken from the Lindbergh home near Hopewell, New Jersey, sometime between eight and ten o’clock in the evening, when caregiver Betty Gow found him missing. Police on the scene found a poorly constructed ladder, apparently used to gain access to the upper level of the house. A bizarre ransom note was found near the open window demanding money in exchange for the child. The note included two overlapping circles at the end of the note with three holes punched in the circles. This note eventually found its way into the hands of the media, after which it was photographed and widely distributed as a souvenir. This compromised the investigation, calling into question the authenticity of any further ransom notes.
Dear Sir! have 50,000 $ redy 25 000 $ in 20 $ bills 1,5000 $ in 10$ bills and 10000 $ in 5$bills. After 2-4 days we will inform you were to deliver the Mony. We warn you for making anyding public or for notify the Police the chld is in gute care.
A ransom was eventually paid, but the body of the child was soon found a few miles from the Lindbergh estate. Intervention by President Roosevelt hastened the exchange of gold notes, a currency of the time, one of which was used as payment at a gas station, resulting in the customer being reported as suspicious. A matched license plate belonging to Bruno Richard Hauptmann led to the discovery of nearly $15,000.00 of the ransom money in his garage. A major piece of evidence in the trial was a piece of the ladder used in the kidnapping dubbed ‘Rail 16’, where one of the rungs was matched to a gap in Hauptmann’s attic floor. Hauptmann was eventually arrested, convicted and executed for the crime.