Lindbergh Kidnapping Revisited—Part III

Betty Gow was a 27-year-old unmarried Scottish nursemaid employed by the Lindberghs in February, 1931. It was she who, on March 1, 1932, reported the crib empty at about 10 p.m. after she went into the nursery to routinely check on Charles, Jr., who was sick with a cold, and to take him to the bathroom before the family would retire for the night. 

Only an insider would have known that the child would be accessible on that day and at that time. Twice that day Gow had been on the telephone with someone, allegedly her boyfriend. Why take the baby at that exact time, before everyone went to bed? To begin with, Betty needed to be able to signal her associate just before he would place and climb the ladder without drawing attention. Movements within a house mask small noises outside, whereas in a silent house even opening a window can seem loud. Betty put the baby into the burlap sack and handed it out the window. She knew the child would not cry out because she who put him into the sack was a woman as familiar as his mother. 

Did Gow have the opportunity to bag and bring the baby to the window at the appointed moment. Yes, and afterward she retreated to Elsie Whately’s room, distracting Whately from any sounds of ladder removal or muffled cries while also giving herself a witness to her presence outside the nursery as much as possible. No one could have known the precise time the child was taken. Any effort by investigators to place Gow in the room at the exact time of the abduction would be impossible. Lindbergh had heard a noise at 9:15 p.m. and it has often been asked why he failed to investigate. Our answer is that he perceived the sound as coming from inside. He said that it sounded like something had fallen off a chair “in the kitchen.” His wife did not even affirm that there had been a noise. 

Looking at it from the outside, the ladder was placed to the right of the window, indicating that the ladder climber was left-handed. This comports with the investigators’ conclusion that the makeshift ladder had been constructed by a left-handed person. Yet, considering that the weather had been inclement, we have found no mention of muddy footprints or debris on the floor of the nursery. The man never entered the window. It has been asked why all fingerprints in the room had been erased. Betty Gow erased them because if prints of household members were present, the kidnapper’s prints would be conspicuous by their absence. The man’s prints would have been missing because he never entered the room; the fact that Gow had assisted would have been obvious. 

Betty also placed the ransom note delivered by the man who climbed the ladder, but not immediately. She waited before putting it on the radiator (and not in the crib) because the longer it would take the Lindberghs to be certain a kidnapping had occurred and turn their attention to that particular window, the more time the murderer-to-be had to dispose of the ladder and vacate the entire vicinity unnoticed. If the delay in discovery and need to draw attention away from the avenue of escape had not been so crucial, the ladder could have been left in place. When the colonel found the note, he called Miss Gow to come back upstairs; he must have wondered how she missed it. 

At the first opportunity after (right-handed) Bruno Hauptmann’s sentencing, Betty Gow left the USA and returned to Scotland. It is said that Gow’s skin went “ashen” when she learned that Hauptmann was to be executed. She must have thought: If the truth ever comes to light, that will be me. She had had the opportunity and means to commit this crime, but what was her motive? Is it coincidental that a man named Gow and a man named Rothschild would come to appear on the same list of espionage suspects?

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One Response to “Lindbergh Kidnapping Revisited—Part III”

  1. PluribusOne™ Says:

    For those who find our final paragraph above to be unclear, see our comment to the Part II post regarding Lindy’s role as a spy for the U.S. government serving under master spy William Donovan. The kidnapping and murder was part of clandestine spy-versus-spy warfare.

    The truth about the murder has never come to light, we believe, because it would reveal things about the way secret societies and the NSA/CIA operate yet today.

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