Al Capone and the Lindbergh Baby

It takes a thief to catch a thief.

That was how imprisoned mob boss Al Capone proposed to bring the kidnapped Lindbergh baby home safely.

On March 2, 1932, from his cell in Cook County Jail in Chicago, one day after the son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh had been kidnapped, “Scarface” Al Capone offered an award of $10,000 for information that would lead to the capture of the kidnappers and the baby’s safe return.

“I know how Mrs. Capone and I would feel if our son were kidnapped and I sympathize with the Lindberghs,” said Capone (Washington Post, March 11, 1932). Compassion, however, was not the only aspect of Capone’s offer.

The gangster had been in jail for four months awaiting appeal of his eleven-year penitentiary sentence for income-tax evasion. Capone asked for a temporary release from jail in order to use his influence to search out the abductors. “If I were out of jail I could be of real assistance. I have friends all over the country who could aid in running this thing down,” Capone told reporters (Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1932).

After police officials ignored his initial offer, Capone made several more pleas over the course of the next two months. He proposed to put up $200,000 bail and even offered to place his younger brother in jail as a hostage if he could be freed on bond.

When asked about accepting Capone’s offer, U.S. District Attorney George Johnson, who had prosecuted the gangster and sent him to prison on the tax evasion charges, stated that any deal with Capone would be decided by the federal government.

Officials were reasonably skeptical of the notorious mobster’s motives. For years, Capone had successfully eluded prosecution for countless crimes including bootlegging, gambling, and murder, until he was charged with tax evasion in 1931.

Capone’s proposal to save the Lindbergh baby even made it to the Senate floor. Some senators speculated that the baby may have been kidnapped by an associate of Capone for the premeditated purpose of liberating the mob boss. Ultimately, Uncle Sam refused to bargain with the criminal.

A plan, outlined by one of Capone’s lieutenants, was given to a “high official” who was to present it to the Lindberghs. The family considered it, but ultimately turned it down.

Sadly, the search for baby Lindbergh ended in tragedy in May 1932 when the child was found murdered a few miles from the family home.

2 Comments

  1. MYNAMEISBOIIIII
    December 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

    did charles and capone ever meet?

    • Heather Thomas
      December 7, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      To the best of my knowledge, Charles Lindbergh never met Al Capone face to face about Capone’s offer.

      During the investigation into the kidnapping, the Lindberghs worked with the FBI and with others who acted as intermediaries. These go-betweens were used to communicate with the kidnappers about ransom demands, as well as received Capone’s proposal, which was delivered by one of the criminal’s own middlemen.

      Soon after the Lindberghs refused Capone’s offer, baby Lindbergh was found murdered, thus ending any reason for a aviator to meet the gangster. Additionally, if Lindbergh had indeed visited Capone, who was in prison at the time, it would have been huge news in the headlines. From my research, I found no reports in newspapers that the two ever met during that time.

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