Anna Hauptmann, the 83-year-old widow of the man executed for the murder of the Lindbergh baby, charged today in an emotion-packed press conference that the state of New Jersey had suppressed evidence that would have vindicated her husband.
She arrived here after a victory in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., where Judge Frederick B. Lacey ordered Deputy Attorney General Peter Herzberg to determine what records of the case still exist 47 years after Richard Hauptmann's conviction and turn them over to Mrs. Hauptmann's lawyer, Robert R. Bryan.
"I know he didn't do what he was accused of having done," Hauptmann, a frail woman dressed in a gray suit, said in a faint German accent of her husband Richard. "He was taken to New Jersey, taken to trial, reached finally the end, but he never saw that baby and never was a person who could do something like that to a baby. They are fighting so hard not to let the truth come out because that would be embarrassing. I will not give up until I die. And I will win, because the truth is always stronger than all the titles and the money in the world."
Last October, New Jersey state police were ordered to open the files on the Hauptmann case--in response to a freedom of information suit filed by Bryan at Mrs. Hauptmann's request. Bryan also filed a second suit for her, this one against the state of New Jersey and others, including the original prosecutor David Wilentz, for "wrongly, corruptly and unjustly" trying and executing her husband. That suit asks for $100 million for deprivation "under color of the law" of her husband's constitutional rights.
During the past six months Bryan and Hauptmann have pored over 90,000 documents and pieces of evidence. They charged yesterday that the state of New Jersey had tried to hinder their search by attempting to limit the number of people who could look at the documents and that they have discovered about 200 files missing.
"We attempted to match investigative reports in the FBI files with investigation reports which should have been in the state police files, and discovered the files are missing. These are files that often contain information that could have proved Hauptmann's innocence," said Bryan, a trial lawyer from San Francisco who has been Anna Hauptmann's counsel since 1981.
Among their preliminary findings, they cited:
* New Jersey state police files record that a cast of the footprint of the intruder who kidnaped the Lindbergh baby was made from the print found outside the Lindberghs' home. The cast was not presented as evidence in Hauptmann's trial and cannot be found today.
* Evidence that discredits the testimony of Dr. John Condon, the friend of Lindbergh's who delivered the ransom money. They discovered his original statement, which he changed when he took the stand. In it, Condon had described the extortionist as a man who was 11 years younger than Hauptmann, six inches shorter, and coughing heavily. Hauptmann did not have a cough at the time of the kidnaping, according to his wife.
"The next time we will see you will be in trial," said Bryan. He and Hauptmann are currently pushing for a "trial by merit," to present this and other evidence they say they have found to clear Richard Hauptmann's name.