The month of March in 1932 began on a bad note for Charles Lindbergh, the pioneer aviator. He was at home in New Jersey with his wife, Anne, and 20-month-old son, Charles Jr. At 7.30pm, a nanny laid the toddler down to sleep in his crib. About two hours later, Charles heard a noise he thought sounded like a crate smashing, but thought nothing of it.

Then at 10pm, the nanny, frantic with worry, reported that the baby had disappeared. In his bedroom, Charles found a handwritten, misspelled note: “Dear Sir! Have 50000$ redy 25000$ in 20$ bills 15000$ in 10$ bills and 10000$ in 5$ bills … We warn you for making anyding public or for notify the Police. The child is in gut care.”

In early April, Lindbergh delivered $50,000 to the kidnapper via an intermediary. But there was no baby given back.Then, on 12 May, a truck driver found a child’s body in woods near Lindbergh’s home. It was little Charles.

Two years later, the police arrested a German-born carpenter, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who had a record of robbery and whose garage contained notes from the ransom money. Protesting his innocence, he went to the electric chair.