cover image Cemetery John: 
The Undiscovered Mastermind 
of the Lindbergh Kidnapping

Cemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping

Robert Zorn, foreword by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Overlook, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59020-856-4

Eighty years after the kidnapping of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s baby from their Englewood, N.J., home, the case still raises questions, ones Zorn ably examines through an unusual lens. Zorn’s father, Eugene, believed he had overheard Bruno Hauptman—the only man convicted for the crime—and a co-conspirator plotting the kidnapping. Eugene had grown up in the South Bronx, down the block from German immigrant John Knoll, with whom he was friendly. Months before the kidnapping, Eugene overheard Knoll, his brother Walter, and another German, identified only as “Bruno,” discussing in German something about “Englewood.” More details fell into place for Eugene: the ransom notes’ odd stamps fit with Knoll’s penchant for stamp collecting; Knoll’s physical characteristics matched the description of the man who met the Lindberghs’ representative for the cemetery ransom handoff, and identified himself as “John”; and modern handwriting analysis indicates similarities between Knoll’s handwriting and the writing in the ransom notes. Retelling the by now familiar story of Charlie Lindbergh’s kidnapping, Zorn imbues it with novelistic suspense. Even if Zorn doesn’t definitively prove that Knoll, who died in 1980, was the crime’s mastermind and Hauptmann’s accomplice, he makes a strong case. Illus. Agent: William Callahan, Inkwell Management. (June)