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Electrocution of the Century

Bruno Richard Hauptmann was at the center of the Lindbergh kidnapping, where the 20-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was abducted and then murdered. The papers dubbed the tragedy “The Crime of the Century”.  Hauptmann was a German ex-con sentenced to death for the crime. In this article, you will learn about his involvement and the death of another criminal with an unusual background.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann

The kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr. took place March 1, 1932 when it was believed that a man climbed up a ladder placed under the bedroom window of the child’s room. Without making a sound, he took the infant and wrapped him in a blanket. He left behind a note that demanded a ransom of $50,000, which was placed on the radiator that was part of the windowsill in the room. Although the ransom was delivered, the infant was not returned. On May 12, 1932, the body of a dead boy was found in the woods located four miles from the Lindbergh home. Examination of the body stated that the boy died from a blow to the head.

It wasn’t until years later that Hauptmann was caught by the police. The media dubbed his trial , the “Trial of the Century” and he had been called the most hated man in the world. The trial took place in Flemington, New Jersey , lasting from January 2 to February 13, 1935.  Evidence was produced that showed Hauptmann was in possession of $14,590 of the ransom money, which was located in his garage. After analyzing the handwriting, experts concluded that he was the same person to have written the ransom notes.

When Hauptmann was convicted on his crimes, he was immediately sentenced to death. Hauptmann was executed on April 3, 1936. The electric chair at the New Jersey State Prison (nicknamed ‘Old Smokey’) was used.

Hans B. Schmidt

When you think of the electric chair, the last person you’d think would be sentenced to its destruction is a man of God, but Hans B. Schmidt was a Roman Catholic priest to become the only one of his kind to receive the death penalty in the United States. While he was serving in New York, Schmidt met an attractive housekeeper named Anna Aumüller, who worked at the rectory. She had recently come to America from Austria and eventually started a secret relationship with the priest.

Anna was transferred to a church farther from the city, but Father Schmidt continued to see her and engage in sexual relations. People would later learn that the two married in a secret ceremony that may have not been legal, where the priest performed the rites himself. When Schmidt learned that Anna was pregnant, he slashed her throat on September 2, 1913. He dismembered her body and tossed the pieces into the Hudson River.

After the body was found, the police investigated her death, which led to the arrest of Father Schmidt. He was charged with her murder and sent to trial. During his first trial, he claimed that he was insane, which led to a hung jury. In the end, Schmidt was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair. He was executed in Sing Sing Prison , dying on February 18, 1916.