Saturday, May 31, 2008


Wednesday, February 8, 1956


Denies Charges Made in Four-count Indictment Returned Last Thursday

James P. Taylor pleaded not guilty when arraigned Monday in Minneapolis federal court before Judge Gunnar Nordbye on a four count indictment charging him with the murder of Kenneth E. Lindbergh.

Taylor’s court appointed attorney, Irving Nemerov of St. Paul, entered the plea along with a request that he be given time to file motions attacking the indictment which had been handed down by a federal grand jury last Thursday.

Judge Nordbye, who had appointed Nemerov to defend Taylor, granted Nemerov two weeks in which to file motions, questioned in the validity of the indictment.

District Attorney George E. MacKinnon, who is personally handling the prosecution of the case, indicated that the federal government would be ready for trial early in the March term of the court, but Judge Nordbye said he would dispose of any motions before setting a date for the trial.

In his second public appearance since being brought to Minneapolis from Joplin, Missouri, nearly 2 months ago, Taylor was pictured is being……….. And a bit heavier than when arrested.

Nemerov had previously stated that in the event that his client was charged with the Lindbergh’s slaying, he would request additional legal assistance for the defense.

In reply to defense request for 60 days in which to prepare his case, Judge Nordbye said he felt that two weeks would be sufficient time in which to make motions, and that he would allow a reasonable time for a hearing on them.

Shortly before noon on Wednesday, Judge Nordbye designated Walter E. Riordan, Minneapolis attorney, to assist Nemerov in Taylor’s defense. Nemerov had requested Riordan’s appointment. The spring term of the court opens March 6 with security cases to be heard beginning on March 13.

The major count charged in the indictment is that of murder in connection with the stealing of funds from a bank ensured by FDIC.

Title 18 of the federal code under which Taylor is charged says in essence, that if, in the commission of such offense, or in avoiding or attempting to avoid apprehension for a day commission of such offense and offender kills any person… he shall be…. Punished by death if the verdict of the jury shall so direct.


In the case of the United States of America versus James Peter Taylor charged with murdering Kenneth E. Lindbergh at charged lists 34 different names allegedly used by Taylor in cashing 461 travelers checks. Here are Taylor’s temporary names:

Harold Bradley, M.D.
Harold S. Bradley, M. D.
Howard Bradley, M.D.
Howard I Bradley, M.D.
Howard S. Bradley, M.D.
R. B. Brubaker
Caption Gerald Cote
Gerald Oscar Cote
Dr. Henry F. Dolley,
Dr. Henry F. Dolley
H.F. Dooly
Dr. Barry D. Farnsworth
Dr. Barry L. Farnsworth
Frederick Isidore
Fred Isidore
Herbert F. Johnson
Charles D. Kenwell
Tom Lewis
Von Lewis
Ken McKenney
Kenneth McKenney
K McKenney
J. O.‘Malley
J. B. O’Malley
James B O’Malley
F. M. Taylor
Jim Taylor
Carl E Thomas
Carl D. Thomas
Carl David Thomas
Carl P Thomas
Dr. Calvin B Thompson
Dr. Calvin P Thompson

Other accounts to all of which Taylor pleaded not guilty included, (1) theft of money, (2) forgery in connection with the cashing of four checks at the Nicolet Hotel in Minneapolis, and (3) interstate transportation of stolen travelers checks.

Except for legal processes, there have been no disclosures of any consequence in the puzzling Lindbergh case since Taylor’s arrest.

Numerous witnesses, including at least 10 from Thief River Falls viewed the suspect and a police show up. While none would make a statement, it was indicated that Taylor had been identified as being the person who met Lindbergh at the Northern State Bank on the afternoon of Saturday, November 12.

The 44-year-old cashier, employee at the Northern State Bank for 20 years, disappeared that night after conferring with a stranger who had called earlier saying he was Herbert Johnson.

Also missing from the bank were $1850 silver coin and over $14,000 in blank travelers checks. All but about $6,000 of the loot was subsequently recovered.

Lindbergh’s hacked body was found in an isolated spot near Clear Lake, Minnesota 13 days after his disappearance. He had been killed by blows on the back of the head afflicted with a bladed instrument. Near the frozen body were $200 in silver. Lindbergh’s hat, with the crown pushed out, was found nearby.

Taylor was apprehended in Joplin, Missouri where he was posing as a novelist. FBI man were said to have trailed there after identifying him through fingerprints on one of the travelers checks which had been cashed.
Previously convicted of forgery, and impersonating a federal officer, and interstate transportation of a stolen automobile, Taylor had served three federal prison terms. He had been released from jail at Terre Haute, Indiana, on October 29, two weeks before Lindbergh’s disappearance.


Friday, May 30, 2008


Wednesday, February 8, 1956


Of a copy of the “ true bill” returned by the federal grand jury last week, in which James P. Taylor is charged with killing Kenneth E. Lindbergh, was furnished to the Times by US District Attorney George MacKinnon.
Offenses charged come within the meaning of the Title 18, US code section numbers as indicated. For the sake of brevity aliases said to have been used, are omitted.

In essence, the following are the grand jury charges.
Count one
19 U.S.C. 2113
That beginning on or about the 12th day of November, 1955, and continuing on or until about the 13th day of November, 1955, at places beginning in this city a Thief River Falls and continually to a place in the vicinity of the south shore of so called Crescent Lake on the Lawrence Fiereck farm in Clear Lake Township, all within the state and district of Minnesota, one James Peter Taylor defendant, herein and did carry away with intent to steal 204 American Express Co. travelers checks of the value of about $5,110. Two hundred and fifty seven dollars in Bank of America National Savings and Trust Association of San Francisco, California, travelers checks of the value of about $9,600, and money having a total value of about $1750 belonging to the Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls. Thief River Falls, Minnesota. The deposits which, were on this date, insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and committing the aforesaid offense and in avoiding and attempting to avoid apprehension for the commission of such offense on or about the 13th day of November, 1955, the aforesaid defendant James Peter Taylor, at a place in the vicinity of the south shore of so called Crescent Lake on the Lawrence Fiereck farm in Clear Lake Township in the County of Sherburne, State of Minnesota, did unlawfully and violently, willfully, deliberately with malice of forethought, and with force and violence and intentionally kill Kenneth E. Lindbergh.

Count II
(18 U.S. 2113)
That beginning on or about the 12th day of November, 1955, and continuing on or about the 13th day of November 1955, at places beginning in the city of Thief River Falls and continuing to a place in the vicinity of the south shore of so called Crescent Lake, all within state in District of Minnesota, the defendant herein did take and carry away with intent to steal and purloin property, money, and other things of value to wit 204 American Express Co. travelers checks the value of $5,110 and 257 Bank of America National Savings and Trust Association of San Francisco, California travelers checks of the value of about $9,060 and money having a total value of about $1750 belonging to the Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls, Minnesota, the deposits of which that time were said to be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Count III
(18 U.S.C. 2314, 2311, 3227,2)
That beginning on or about November 12, 1955 and continuing therefore until on or about December 8, 1955, the defendant herein did transport and cause to be transported in interstate commerce from Minneapolis, Chicago, and to the city of Detroit, Michigan, and hence to the cities of Cleveland, Ohio; and Cincinnati, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana; Miami, Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Joplin, Missouri; New York City, New York; San Francisco, California; and other places in the United States outside of the state of Minnesota to the grand jury unknown, certain stolen and converted securities previously referred to in count one and two hereof the aggregate value of about $13,970 and is said when he transported said securities the aforesaid knew the same to have been stolen and converted from the Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls, Minnesota.


The penalty upon conviction on the first count ranges from 10 years to death. The penalty may be imposed only if the jury so directs. Maximum penalty on conviction for the second count is $3000 in fines and 10 years in prison or both.

Upon conviction of charges alleged and counts three and four, the penalty is $10,000 fine or 10 years imprisonment or both.


Thursday, May 29, 2008


Wednesday, February 8, 1956


Points Out Difficulties If State Prosecuted This Complex Case

In a telephone interview with the Times reporter, United States District Attorney, George MacKinnon explained the federal statutes covering the murder indictment product against James P. Taylor by a grand jury last week.

He pointed out the difficulties involved if the state prosecute Taylor for the bank robbery and the killing of Kenneth Lindbergh last November 12 and 13.
In substance, he said, this statute provides that whoever or by force or violence, or by intimidation, takes or attempts to take from the person or persons of others, or steals or purloins any money or property belonging to any bank, the deposits of which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is guilty of a federal offense and if he is committing such an offense, or is avoiding or attempting to avoid apprehension for the commission of such an offense, if any offender kills any person, the statute provides that he shall be imprisoned not less than 10 years or punished by death if the verdict of the jury shall be so directed.

The crime of bank robbery and murder in the commission of such an offense makes the robbery and killing one offense, a district attorneys stated. The United States has authority to try such cases in Minnesota if committed in the state or if begun in Minnesota and completed in some other state.
He explained that state jurisdiction might be divided into two offenses, (murder and bank robbery), they can then pointed out the complications which might arise and prosecuting such a case.

With respect to the bank robbery or theft, he said it would be necessary to prove where the money was taken from Lindbergh in Thief River Falls, Detroit Lakes, Clear Lake, or where?

This difficulty would be inherent in the state prosecution for murder -- it would be necessary to prove that the offense was committed in a particular county where the defendant was being tried.

Because the Lindbergh crime was part of an interstate offense, it is necessary to secure the attendance of out-of-state witnesses for grand jury and trial purposes, which would be most difficult on a state prosecution.
However, the process of federal courts in such matters is the effective throughout the US, to compel immediate attendance where the case is being presented.

MacKinnon said any witnesses served in any part of the country, are appearing in court the next day.
Such procedures permit the U.S. to prosecute all associated offenses on a complete basis, whereas the cost to any local subdivision of government of gathering such material would be staggering.

A grand jury composed of 10 men and two women charged Taylor on four counts including murder.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Wednesday, February 1, 1956


Testimony in Taylor Kidnap-murder Case to be Completed Today

A federal grand jury hearing testimony in the government’s case against James P. Taylor, suspect in the kidnapping -- slaying of Kenneth E. Lindbergh was expected to report their findings Thursday.

Approximately 40 witnesses were questioned on Monday and Tuesday by George MacKinnon, US District Attorney, who is in charge of prosecution. Documentary evidence was to be added to this direct testimony Wednesday.

George MacKinnon, District Attorney, stated in an interview with the Times reporter this morning that he presented the elements of the evidence to the grand jury. There are still are the few tag ends to be brought in and we expect to complete our presentation this afternoon. We are working on the terms of the indictment that may be offered with the grand jury report as it is presented in federal court. We hope to get at least a partial report before the court sometime tomorrow.

Taylor has been held under a federal charge of the interstate transportation of stolen traveler’s checks since his arrest in Joplin, Missouri on December 8. He is believed to be the stranger who made a late appointment with Lindbergh on Saturday, November 12, the day Lindbergh disappeared.

Lindbergh’s battered body was found near Clear Lake nearly 2 weeks after his disappearance.

Taylor, had been released from prison only two weeks before Lindbergh disappeared. Fingerprints on some of the $14,000 in traveler’s checks taken from the bank led to his apprehension.

Fern Feddesly, 24 year old liquor store employee who had competed in any beauty contests and not been previously mentioned in the case, was among the witnesses.

Approximately 40 witnesses, including the slain cashier’s widow and at least 12 other TRF residents, were questioned before the grand jury.

Two surprise witnesses were Ben Bakken of Warroad and Elizabeth Richardson of Joplin, Missouri. The latter was a travel Bureau operator, who had taken Taylor into her home as a guest. He was arrested there by the FBI on December 8.

Bakken, a Warroad banker who confessed to embezzling funds from the Warroad bank were yet been cashier, served part of his term in Terre Haute prison from which Taylor was released on October 29 and was believed to have known Taylor there.

Among those who appeared before the grand jury were:
Charles Christianson of Roseau who was on the plane which supposedly brought Taylor to TRF under the alias of J. O’Malley.

Lowell Vraa and Mr. and Mrs. Christ Kierk, who observed the suspect at the airport.

George Rockstad, who gave the stranger a ride to town.
Fred Plotz and Mrs. Harry Winter of the Stewart and Pennington Hotels respectively where “Johnson” checked on reservations.

George Werstlein, vice president of the Northern State Bank who was introduced to the stranger by Lindbergh. Charles Bowman, janitor at the bank.

Arthur Christianson, who was said to have been in the bank when Lindbergh received one of the long distance calls from “Herbert Johnson.”

Others included airline employees from Louisville, Chicago, and Minneapolis. Bank officials from Detroit, Michigan, a desk clerk and bellboy from the Nicolet Hotel, a Minneapolis cabdriver, the father of the news boy who saw the car when it was abandoned, a Detroit Lakes hotel clerk, and a filling station attendant from the same town, who believes he serviced Lindbergh’s car on Saturday night of his disappearance.

Among those who appeared before the grand jury was the slain banker’s widow, Mrs. Kenneth Lindbergh.
Sheriff Arthur Rambeck and Thief River Falls Chief of Police, Elton Cummings were also among those who testified. All witnesses stayed in the ante road off the court chambers according to Arthur Rambeck and were called one by one. Most of the Thief River Falls people were questioned on Tuesday.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Wednesday, January 25, 1956


And incorrigible waste who has been in trouble since he was a prep school. It cost me more than $10,000 get them out of his scrapes until I put my foot down a few years ago.

Thus, James W. Taylor, 68, retired paving contractor characterized his foster son, James P. Taylor, 30, who is being held in connection with the Lindbergh kidnapping -- murder.

The elder Taylor, who was contacted at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home last week by an Associated Press correspondents from the Minneapolis Star, said Taylor had visited there on November 26, the day after Lindbergh’s body was discovered, which was the first time he had seen his foster son in three years.

Despite his misgivings, the well to do contractor expressed doubts that young Taylor was involved in the Lindbergh case since he had been released from prison in Terre Haute, Indiana only two weeks before this affair in Thief River Falls, and I don’t think he would have had time to set it up.

Nevertheless, he is quoted by the Star as saying that his foster son will have to get out of this scrape the best he can, he knows now it is without my help.

He said James was born in Detroit as Ian Truett, and adopted by him and his wife now 58, when the boy was 2 ½ years old.

Taylor related how he had put the boy through public grade school in Detroit and financed him at exclusive Cranbrook pre-prep school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Kiski prep school at Salisbury, Pennsylvania.

After graduating from prep school where he starred in football, basketball, and track he enlisted in the Navy in 1945. He was given a medical discharge seven months later the foster father told the Star, adding and I still don’t understand why.

Following this, the elder Taylor said, he financed his foster son at Miami University, North Carolina State Teachers College, and the University of Nevada.

Young Taylor had come to Fort Lauderdale to get clothes he had shipped there after his car theft conviction. His foster father said that he was well-dressed.

Taylor Sr. recalls his foster son remarking that “he had taken the wrap on that conviction and he had returned to Detroit to make them pay.”

Taylor said the suspect had been married at least four times that I know of, has several stepchildren, and his present wife lives in Pensacola, Florida.

Irving Nemerov, Taylor’s court appointed attorney, told the Minneapolis Star news man that Taylor was emotionally upset by his foster father’s statement, adding that Taylor holds no malice towards him and that he hopes his parents will visit him.


Monday, May 26, 2008


Wednesday, January 18, 1956


Irving Nemerov Named by Court to Defend Lindbergh Case Suspect

Irving Nemerov, court appointed consul for James P. Taylor who is being held in connection with a Lindbergh case, was in Thief River Falls last week interviewing witnesses.

Nemerov contacted most of the people who had seen the
stranger who arrived here by plane Saturday, November 12 and met Lindberg at the Northern State Bank.

He also planned to talk with those who say they saw Lindbergh at Detroit Lakes from where the later had called his wife at 11:30 p.m. that fateful Saturday night.

That was the last anyone is known to have seen Lindbergh until his body was found on an isolated brushy slope about 2 miles south of the village of Clear Lake. His murderer had killed him with repeated blows on the back of his head with a bladed instrument.

Taylor is being held for federal grand jury action on a charge of transporting stolen traveler’s checks, part of a $15,700 loot taken from the bank across the state lines.
A total of $1750 and silver coin and $14,000 negotiable travelers checks were taken, which have more than $9,500 has subsequently recovered.

The American Express Co. ….. a part of the stolen traveler’s checks, filed suit against Taylor two weeks ago seeking to recover on checks Taylor converted to his own use under various aliases.

In addition to Herbert F. Johnson, J. B. O’Malley, and Charles D. Kenwell, names which have figured prominently in the case heretofore, the complaint lists alias’ of Henry F. Dooley, Harry G. Farnsworth, Howard F. Bradley, and R. B. Brubaker as having been used to cash the checks.

Denominations listed were listed as: 99 -- $10, 71 -- $20, 14 -- $50, and 20 -- $100, a total of $5,110. The complaint of averred that all but one of the $20 and four of the $10 checks had been cashed.

Nemerov stated that he had until January 22 to file an answer to the suit.

Declining comment on Taylor’s status in the forthcoming grand jury hearing, which is scheduled for January 20, Nemerov said we’ll just have to wait to see what develops, meanwhile I am obligated to do everything just and fair which is in the interest of my client.

Because he was appointed by a federal court to defend Taylor, Nemerov said he will get no fee for his services. About $800 which Taylor had on his person when arrested at Joplin, Missouri on December 8, was impounded by federal authorities.

Taylor is being held in the Hennepin County jail. No one but his counsel, federal investigators, and the U. S. District Attorney and the jailers are allowed to see him there.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Wednesday, January 11, 1956


American Express Company is Seeking to Recover $5,110 Traveler’s Checks

The law closed in a bit more on James P. Taylor, 30, suspect in the Lindbergh kidnapping, murder case, with the filing of a civil suit against him to recover $5,110 by the American Express Co., one of the issuers where its travelers checks were stolen from the bank where Lindbergh disappeared.

Saying that Taylor converted that amount of checks to his own use, the complaint named him as defendant, giving seven aliases, among which were Charles D. Kenwell, J.B. O’Malley, and Herbert Johnson.

Most of the $14,000 in traveler’s checks taken from the Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls on November 12, were previously recovered in Detroit, Michigan where Taylor, using the Kenwell alias, is said to have sought to open a bank account. There were also some Bank of America checks included in the total.

All but $20 of the remainder of the loot, which consists of $1750 in silver coins, was recovered; $1530 locked in the trunk of Lindbergh’s abandoned car, and $200 beside his body where he had been murdered near Clear Lake, Minnesota.

Taylor is now being held in Hennepin County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail pending federal grand jury action later this month. He is charged with transporting stolen traveler’s checks across state lines.


Saturday, May 24, 2008


Wednesday, January 4, 1956


Suspect is Unable to Furnish $25,000 Bond

Although the Lindbergh kidnapping--murder, was chosen the top Minnesota news story of 1955, there was been nothing of any consequence relative to the case for the past two weeks.

Since December 18, when several Thief River Falls residents attended a police show up at the Hennepin County jail to look over a suspect who had been picked up by the FBI, no information has been given out on the case by the authorities.

Being held in Lieu of $25, 0000 bail for a hearing before the Federal Grand Jury, which meets late in January, is James P. Taylor, 30, of Detroit, Michigan who was apprehended in Joplin, Missouri by the FBI on December 8.

Both the Associated Press and the United Press picked the Lindbergh case in choosing their top ten new stories of the year. Both also named the Mary Moonen murder with the subsequent trial of Dr. Arnold Axilrod as next to the top. Mrs. Moonen was formerly a resident of this city.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Wednesday, December 21, 1955


Potential witnesses, who viewed a suspect being held in Minneapolis in connection with the Lindbergh bank robbery -- kidnapping -- murder case, refused to comment after returning from the Monday morning show up.

At least eight Thief River Falls residents, all of whom had previously been shown photos of the suspect, conferred with the Federal Bureau of Investigation man after looking at James P. Taylor, 30, who is being held on a charge of causing stolen traveler’s checks to be transported across state lines.

The checks in question are part of the $14,000 loot which was missing from the bank along with the cashier, Kenneth E. Lindbergh, after Lindbergh had met a Herbert Johnson at the bank after hours to accept $25,000 for safekeeping.

Reportedly, several of the witnesses identified Taylor as the man who flew in here under the name of J. O’Malley; appeared at the Pennington Hotel to confirm reservations, and met Lindbergh at the bank at about 4 p.m.

However, none of the local people would comment on the show up beyond the fact that they were making no statements for publication or otherwise.
Some of the witnesses made it clear that they were free to say what they wanted; but each was advised that talking of the case jeopardize his position as a possible future government witness.

Taylor appeared in federal court Tuesday as the check charge with his court appointed attorney Irving Nemerov of Minneapolis. He wavered preliminary hearing.

Arrested in Joplin, Missouri on December 8, after the FBI had trailed him from Detroit to San Francisco and back again, Taylor had been released from federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana on October 29.

Lindbergh’s frozen body had been found by some youthful hunters on November 25, at an isolated spot near Clear Lake, Minnesota where he had been murdered by repeated blows on the head from a sharp instrument.

Apparently the murder had been committed on the same night that Lindbergh had disappeared, Lindbergh had called his wife in Detroit Lakes, 150 miles north of that point at 11:40 p.m. on Saturday.

A man who had registered at the Nicolet Hotel in Minneapolis Friday as Herbert F. Johnson had room service at 3:30 a.m. Sunday and checked out shortly after 6 a.m. that morning.

Lindbergh’s car, which had not been discovered until six days after his disappearance was said to have been parked about 2 miles from the hotel at 5:40 a.m. Sunday. A news boy said he had seen the car stopped there, and had observed a man as he got out of it.

It is understood that all these potential witnesses were at Monday’s show up, along with Minneapolis airline employee, and a cab driver as well as others.

A total of 23 potential witnesses were said to have viewed the suspect, but it was not made clear whether this figure included authorities from Pennington and Sherburne Counties who were present.

Local authorities, Sheriff Arthur Rambeck, Police Chief Elton Cummings, and County Attorney L. W. Rulien, all of whom were at the show up Monday, flatly refuse to divulge any information regarding the results saying, it’s the FBI’s case and they’ll make the statements.

The Minneapolis FBI office and George MacKinnon, US District Attorney, both refused to comment on the case; but MacKinnon said that no new charges would be brought until the FBI completes its investigation.

Authorities said that at that show up, five other county prisoners of approximately the same height, age, and build as Taylor were in the lineup. The potential witness is viewed them through a two-way mirror. Taylor is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail bond, with the possibility that evidence may be presented to a federal grand jury should further charges be brought against him.


Thursday, May 22, 2008


Wednesday, December 14, 1955


Seek to Identify Man Arrested in Missouri as Banker’s Abductor

Preliminary hearing for a Detroit ex convict, arrested in Joplin, Missouri last Thursday morning in conjunction with the Kenneth Lindbergh case, has been set for Thursday morning, December 15, in Minneapolis federal district court according to the Associated Press.

James F. Taylor, 30, waved removal hearing at Kansas City where he has been held on charge of transporting stolen traveler’s checks which were part of the loot taken from the Northern State Bank here November 12.

The Minneapolis warrant, filed Monday charges Taylor with complicity in the robbery through checks cashed in Minneapolis under the alias of Herbert F. Johnson, the same name used by a man who was with Lindbergh at the local bank before the latter was kidnapped and murdered.

Taylor was arrested after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had trailed him from Detroit to San Francisco and back to Joplin were he was posing as a novelist under the name of Kenneth McKinney.
A fingerprint from one of the stolen traveler’s checks, cash in Detroit two days after the local banker was kidnapped, put the FBI on Taylor’s trail. The Detroit checks had been signed Charles D. Kenwell.

Originally scheduled for trial at Detroit on that charge, officials in the Michigan city have yielded to the Minneapolis court. Bail set on the Detroit warned at $10,000, has been upped to $25,000 on the new charge.
Pennington County Sheriff Arthur Rambeck said today that he had not been notified of any move to bring Thief River Falls people who had seen Johnson to Minneapolis for a possible identification of Taylor as the same man.
Rambeck surmised that with further identification of Taylor by witnesses from Thief River Falls and Minneapolis, he may be charged with a more serious crime. As yet, he said he hadn’t been notified that Taylor would definitely be moved from Kansas City.

Taylor had been released from Federal Prison at Terre Haute, Indiana on October 29, just two weeks before Lindbergh disappeared with a mysterious stranger who had made an appointment to confer on a property transaction.

Registering at a Joplin hotel under the McKinney alias, Taylor had stayed in Missouri city until November 8, when he left to gather some materials for the book he said he was writing.

He returned to Joplin, December 3, where he was a guest in the home of Elizabeth Richards, a travel agency operator, with whom he had struck up an acquaintance previously.

Described by Miss Richards as being cultured and of gentle manner, Taylor did not offer any resistance when arrested by the FBI agents last Thursday. He had a 30.06 rifle and a snub nosed .22 caliber pistol in his room when arrested.

Taylor had served two federal prison terms of about 18 months each during the past four years. One was on his conviction of impersonating an officer and the most recent term for transportation of a stolen automobile across a state line.

Local authorities expressed the opinions Wednesday that the hearing would be held Thursday. As yet, they had no official word that a definite date has been set.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

DECEMBER 7, 1955

Wednesday, December 7, 1955


Many out-of-town Friends and Relatives Present

More than 1,100 persons attended final rites at Trinity Lutheran Church last Wednesday for Kenneth E. Lindbergh, who had been abducted and slain the night of November 12.

Among the out-of-town relatives in attendance were Mrs. Donald Miller and Marvin Lindberg from Pullman, Washington, Clara Wold, Emma Rhodegaard, and Mrs. Harry Dow from Duluth, Minnesota. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Peterson, Harry Hall, and Mrs. Fred Norquist of Minneapolis. Roy Lonson and Arnold Rustad of St. Paul, Minnesota, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Snyder and Mrs. Jack Trask, (nee Jeannie Davidson) from Moline, Illinois, Hartley Peterson, Holt; Mr. and Mrs. William Lindbergh and Mrs. J.J. Davidson of Warren.

Others were Mr. and Mrs. Bill Mulcaphy, Mrs. Alma Ogaard, Mr. and Mrs. Arland Ogaard, Mr. and Mrs. Duane Ogaard, Mr and Mrs. Sidney DeLisle, Mrs. Steernerson, Barbara Ogaard, Mrs. Minnie Sylvester, and Etta Ogaard of Crookston. Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Ogaard and Mr. and Mrs. Earl Mosher of Beltrami.

Also present were numerous area bank representatives and other friends.


The past week has furnished no new developments in the Lindbergh kidnapping -- murder case according to Arthur Rambeck, Pennington County Sheriff.

Last known trace of the man or men who disappeared with Kenneth Lindbergh, cashier of the Northern State Bank here, along with $1750 and silver coin and $14,000 in negotiable travelers checks on November 12, was three days after the date, in Chicago where some of the travelers checks were cashed.

Lindbergh’s body was found November 25 and an isolated, brushy slope in the village of Clear Lake where he had been killed by repeated blows on the back of the head from a bladed instrument.
Authorities believe that the frozen body had been there since early morning hours of the day after his disappearance. Two hundred dollars in missing silver were beside the body and $1530 of the silver loot was found the previous week in the locked truck of Lindbergh’s car. The car had been abandoned in Minneapolis.

Seven eight hundred dollars worth of travelers checks were recovered in Detroit two days after the kidnapping where the man named, Charles Kenwell sought to open a checking account and $560 worth have been cashed by the same man.

Another $200 in traveler’s checks were cashed in Minneapolis about seven hours after Lindbergh had called his wife from Detroit Lakes telling her he wouldn’t be home for about four hours.

The Minneapolis checks where cashed by Herbert F. Johnson, the same name given Lindbergh by a man who called him to arrange an after hours appointment, to talk over a property transaction involving $25,000 in cash.

The caller had said he would arrive in Thief River Falls on the North Central Airlines plane at 3:22 p.m.. Four passengers had displaned here that day. Three of the passengers were known area residents. The fourth had registered under the name of J. O’Malley the same name as used by a passenger on the Chicago and Minneapolis flight the day before.

Sheriff Rambeck and Elton Cummings, Chief of Police in T.R.F., who had been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation agent locally assigned to the case, said that local persons who observed the man using the name of Johnson and O’Malley have been showing numerous rogue gallery photos of a man who fit the description, but as yet have come up with no positive identification.

Both stated that there are other leads being run down on which complete information can not be made available.


Shown above are the pallbearers carrying the casket away from Trinity Lutheran Church last Wednesday afternoon following funeral rites for the late Kenneth E. Lindbergh who met a violent death at the hands of an abductor the night of November 12 near Clear Lake, Minnesota.

Standing in the church doorway are Mrs. Lindbergh and the three of her four children: Janice, Ronald, and Evonne. Pallbearers include Roy Lonson, Howard Holum, Alvin Christofferson, Clifford Bjorkman, JM Roche, Morris Howick, Robert J. Lund, and George F. Gessner.

A record gathering of approximately 1,100 persons attended the services conducted by the Reverend Otto Dale Trinity pastor and the Reverend Walter M. Pederson of Zion Church. A comforting message was read by Reverend G. S. Thompson of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, former Trinity pastor.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Wednesday, November 30, 1955


Ten year old Ronnie Lindbergh’s feelings toward the unknown assailant who brutally murdered his father are typical of those harbored by other members of the family.

After a nerve wracking 13 day vigil waiting for some word from their husband and father, Mrs. Kenneth Lindbergh and her four children received the shattering news of the discovery of his body through public news sources.

While these aren’t Ronnie’s own words exactly as he gave them, this letter portrays his feelings toward the mad killer. Mrs. Lindbergh authorized its publication in the interest of doing some possible good even though “our own cannot be remedied.”


I cried when we found that you had killed my dad. So did my mom and my sister’s. Mom kept telling us to be brave all those two weeks because she was so sure that no one would do that for just a few dollars.


I don’t know who you are but I feel sorry for you. I guess you couldn’t have had a very good dad, otherwise you wouldn’t be like you all are.

Also I feel sorry for you because if you have kids of your own they wouldn’t be very proud of you the way I was of my dad.

Yesterday I read something about some men not being very good fathers. Usually I don’t read that kind of stuff but since you did that awful thing it’s different. The comics aren’t much fun like they used to be when dad and I would read them together.

And that piece I read some fathers don’t do things or have much fun with their families.


He used to take us for rides and the whole family went on vacation together and we’d all go to church on Sundays. That night he went with you he had planned to take us kids to a party at the high school if he got home in time. We didn’t go.

It’s said that most fathers didn’t take their kids on fishing and hunting trips.


He and I often went fishing and hunting together. He let me use the .410 shotgun when we went hunting partridges. Maybe next year grandpa will take me out. Dad said that when he was a little boy, grandpa used to take him hunting and fishing. It said that many fathers did not spend much time with their families.


He always did a lots of work around the house fixing things and making things in our basement. Often he’d let me help him with a lot of that stuff. The whole family would sometimes sit and watch television or just talk. He would hold my little sister Nancy on his knee. Guess she won’t miss him as much as the rest of us will, Nancy is only one year old.

It’s sad that many girls didn’t get to know their fathers well enough to know how a real man should act. The fathers never took any interest in what the girls were doing.


He was always interested in how Janice was doing in high school and he bought her a sewing machine. He taught her and Evonne how to swim and skate. They’ll miss him a lot.

There were lots of big words in that thing I read that were not used in fifth grade but I know what juvenile delinquency is. It said the best way to stop it was…POP GO HOME.

We sure wish our dad could.

Ronald Lindbergh


In behalf of myself and family I want to express my thanks for everything that has been said and done to help us face this terrible tragedy. We feel that you know and respect Kenneth and will all miss him.
Though we can’t understand why such a terrible thing should happen in our community, we long for the day when all evil shall be overcome and will dedicate our lives to carry on in the inspiration and love we will always have for a beloved husband and father.
Mrs. Kenneth E Lindbergh, Janice, Ronald, Evonne, and Nancy

Monday, May 19, 2008


November 30, 1955


Large Gathering Attends Funeral Services for Late T.R. Falls Banker

Throngs of sorrowing friends and relatives gathered in Trinity Lutheran Church this afternoon to pay final tribute to Kenneth E. Lindbergh, who met a violent death near Clear Lake, Minnesota, the night of November 12. Business in the city was suspended during the hour of the rites.

Pastor Otto Dale officiated at the services, assisted by Reverend Walter M. Pederson of Zion Lutheran Church. Mrs. Donald L. Olson supplied vocal solos, with Mrs. Walter Larson accompanying her on the organ.

Active pallbearers were Robert J. Lund, Roy Lonson, Clifford Bjorkman, George F. Gessner, Howard Holum, Alvin Christofferson, J.M. Roche, and Morris Howick.
Mr. Lindbergh was born January 15, 1919 in Savo, South Dakota. His parents resided in Trail and Perley before coming to this city in 1922. He attended Lincoln high school graduating with the class of 1930.

He was united in marriage on June 20, 1937 to Violet Rhodegaard in this city. He has been active in sports and was a member and past secretary of the Pennington County Sportsman Club. He was a longtime member of the Trinity congregation where he was confirmed and served as an usher for a number of years.

He has been employed by the Northern State Bank for the past 20 years and had been cashier for the last three years. Mr. Lindbergh was also a member of the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce.

Surviving the deceased are his wife, one son, and three daughters: Ronald, Janice, Evonne, and Nancy; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. N.C. Lindbergh of this city, a sister, Mrs. Donald Miller of Pullman, Washington, two brothers, Marvin Lindbergh, also of Pullman, Washington, and Merle Lindbergh, of this city.

Speaking on the text, Deuteronomy 33:27 --”The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms,” Pastor Dale said in part.

It does not matter how long one has lived, but how well for our Lord does not look at the length of life, but he does look at one’s faith…. And it is accounted to him for righteousness.”

Some will say that Kenneth Lindbergh was too young to leave this world, but God does not reckon time as we do. If one has lived a Christian life he has lived a full life, even if the length of it has only been 44 years.

Mr. Lindbergh was the victim of a vicious crime. As hard as we try, we can see no sense to it and it angers us. We had inwardly cursed and the perpetrator of this crime and hope that he will quickly be brought to justice. And we have a feeling of loathing for him and yet our Lord tells us we should love our enemies. If Christ could say father forgive them for they know not what they do, we can hardly do less. As Christians, we are concerned that a man has become depraved that he will kill another man and therefore we ought to pray for him to come on that he would learn to know and to love the true God.
As a family, you have been subjected to a terrible trial. You have said that you have been sustained by the power of prayer our Lord is our refuge even as Moses said “The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

NOVEMBER 30, 1955 1

Wednesday, November 30, 1955


FBI making intensive search for murderer; funeral rites today.

The body of Kenneth E. Lindbergh, cashier of the local Northern State Bank was found in a secluded spot on the shore of Crescent Lake, 3 miles south of the village of Clear Lake Friday afternoon, nearly 2 weeks after his disappearance. With a mysterious stranger and $15,780 in cash and travelers checks, he had been brutally murdered.

Three youthful brothers made the discovery while hunting rabbit’s a quarter of a mile from their farm home. The eldest of the boys, Merle Fiereck , 17, ran home to tell their mother that he and his brothers; Kenneth, 10 and Charlie, 8, “had ‘found a dead man near the lake.”

Mrs. Fiereck phoned Sherburne County Sheriff Chester Goenner, who arrived at the scene shortly after 3 PM, then notified the Minneapolis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI).

Clear Lake is located 55 miles north west of Minneapolis.

Because of the widespread discern for the safety of the missing banker, the unconfirmed report spread rapidly and Lindbergh’s distraught family heard the tragic news over a prematurely released television flash before local authorities had been officially informed and before the body had been positively identified as Lindbergh’s.

Pennington County Sheriff Arthur Rambeck and Chief of Police Elton Cummings drove to the Elk River, seat of Sherburne County Friday night and made positive identification on Saturday morning.

On the Friday afternoon that the body was discovered, Rambeck and Cummings had been in Detroit Lakes to begin organizing search parties along the roads leading off Highway 10 between there and where Lindbergh had called his wife at 11:40 p.m. on the Saturday night of the disappearance and Minneapolis.

Rambeck said the brutal murder is believed to have been committed at the spot where the body was found. Because of the fact that there was no snow under the frozen body and, in viewing of the FBI report that Lindbergh’s car, which had been recovered a week earlier in Minneapolis, showed no bloodstains or signs of struggle. Lindbergh’s unknown assailant is thought to have killed him there in the early morning hours on Sunday after his disappearance.

Adding to the mystery of the crime was the discovery of $200 of the missing silver near the scene and the savagery of the murder. First reports stated that Lindbergh had been shot but later investigation showed that he died as a result of numerous blows on the back of the head with a sharp instrument, Rambeck said.

Dr. Gordon H. Tesch, Sherburne County Coroner, said that University of Minnesota pathologists were present for the postmortem Saturday. At the inquest that night, a coroner’s jury found Lindbergh to have been murdered by an unknown assailant sometime between 11:30 p.m. November 12 and November 16.

FBI investigation of the St. Paul man and woman who had been arrested in Detroit last Saturday night, cleared the two of any complicity in the Lindbergh crime. Authorities had thought they might have been connected with the case because of $600 in cashiers checks, numerous safe-deposit keys, 50 sets of car keys, and some pornographic literature found in their possession when arrested on a traffic count.

While mourning the loss of a highly respected citizen, irate local citizens are continuing to follow all news sources hoping for the apprehension of Lindbergh’s murderer.

Late developments disclosed that Herbert F. Johnson who had registered at a downtown Minneapolis hotel on Friday, November 11, was using the name and credentials of a Racine, Wisconsin, manufacturer who was in California at the time.

Johnson had called room service for some ice at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, the day after Lindbergh’s disappearance. The same bellboy who had delivered the ice said he later brought coffee to the room at 4:30 a.m.. The Twin City news source added that Johnson had apparently left the hotel unnoticed, called a cab from an all-night diner in the vicinity of the spot the Lindbergh car was later found, return to the hotel, and with instructions for the cab to wait for him, going back to his room, called the bellboy to carry his luggage and check out at 6:50 a.m..

A newsboy whose identity has been disclosed is said to have seen a man wearing a Homburg hat park the car on N. 18th Ave at about 20 minutes before six.
It was also reported that the loop hotel cashier and the bellboy have examined rogue’s gallery of photos on the tip that the man may have been previously arrested in Minneapolis.

Lindbergh had met a man identifying himself as Herbert Johnson at the bank Saturday afternoon. The man had called that morning asking that Lindbergh reserve hotel rooms for him and meet him at the bank to accept safekeeping of $25,000 in cash which he said he was bringing up to the Thief River Falls by plane that afternoon. He told the cashier the money was to be used as part payment and a property transaction which he wish to talk over with Lindbergh.

Lindbergh had made reservations for Johnson and a Miss Hadley at a local hotel, a man had appeared at this hotel Saturday afternoon. After confirming the reservations, Johnson declined a request to register and appeared at the bank at about 4 p.m. where he and Lindbergh retired to a private office after having been introduced to George Wertslein, vice president of the bank.

Wertslein said the two talked for about two hours, and that he last contacted Lindbergh at 6 p.m. at which time he was assured that his assistance was not needed.
Lindbergh called from Detroit Lakes to his wife telling her they were still working on that deal and he wouldn’t be home for about four hours was the last thing anyone heard from him.

Discovery of a loss of $1850 in silver, later changed to $1750 and a quantity of blank travelers checks was announced Monday by bank officials. No currency which was under a time lock, was reported missing.
Subsequently, all but $20 of the missing silver was recovered. $1530 in the trunk of the Lindbergh car which was discovered in north Minneapolis on Friday after the disappearance and $200 at the murder scene.
Travelers checks amounting to $7,800 were recovered in the Detroit, Michigan bank where Charles D. Kenwell had sought to open an account on November 14 and had planned to return the next day.

Another $200 was reportedly cashed at that fateful Sunday morning at a Minneapolis loop hotel. Five hundred dollars at a Detroit hotel where Kenwell had made his initial appearance; $20 at a Chicago hotel on Thursday, and $40 at a Chicago Airlines office.
Thus, only $5,470 worth of the missing travelers checks are not known to have turned up and $20 in silver is still unaccounted for.

Veteran news men in metropolitan centers, who have been in constant touch with local law sources, state the grizzly crime is one of the most grotesque in their memories. The fantastic chain of events seems to defy reason, making it seem like it was perpetuated by a demented fiend, one said.

Most authorities adhere to the opinion that there is but one man involved, but some allow a strong possibility that there were two men. One reason for this latter view is the marked discrepancy in descriptions given by people who observed the person precariously known as Johnson, Kenwell, and O’Malley. J. O’Malley is the name used by the passenger on airline flights between Chicago and Thief River Falls via Minneapolis on the Saturday afternoon that Johnson arrived here.

Elvin Saul, night clerk at the Greystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes, said that the man later identified as Lindbergh who had called from the phone booth there on Saturday night was larger than the man who accompanied Lindbergh into the hotel.

He also stated that he observed carefully because he felt that all was not well because of Lindbergh’s nervousness and because of the surly attitude of his companion. Saul described the other man is being about 5 foot seven, pretty well put up, weighing about 150 pounds. He had dark eyebrows and a medium complexion. This description somewhat agrees with that given by George Rockstad, who gave the man a lift into town from the airport and Mrs. Harry Winter who was on duty at the Pennington Hotel where the man confirmed room reservations on Saturday afternoon.

Wertslein, vice president of the bank described a man who appeared at the bank at four o’clock as being about 6 foot tall and a slight build. This agrees with the description of Kenwell, who cashed some of the travelers checks in Detroit.

Regarding the Detroit Lakes call, Saul said that Lindbergh placed the call and the other a man who was seated, gave him a mean look and very gruffly told me to mind my own business.

At the time Lindbergh completed his call, Saul said, he was nearer to him than the other man and that he didn’t hear a word that Lindbergh said. He felt that Lindbergh was under some kind of threat, but definitely stated that the other man did not monitor the call.

Local authorities tend to discount Saul’s statement as well as that of a Detroit Lakes service station attendant who claims that Lindbergh entered he is stationed at about 10:30 or so, on Saturday night of the disappearance.

Most recent traces of the probable murderer which has been reported, is the appearance of Kenwell in Chicago on Tuesday November 15. However, informed sources feel that the FBI has not only uncovered sufficient information to fill the existing gap in the trail of the robber-- kidnapper --killer, but have a wealth of other pertinent information which will not be disclosed until his apprehension.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Wednesday, November 23, 1955


Bank cashier’s car and $1,530 in silver found in Minneapolis Friday.

Despite recovery of most of the silver of the loot, as well as the car belonging to Kenneth Lindbergh, Northern State Bank cashier who is believed to have been abducted Saturday, November 12, authorities reveal little progress. In the search for the Thief River Falls banker or for the stranger believed responsible for the robbery -- kidnapping, the Northern State Bank this week offered a $5,000 reward for his safe return.

The Federal Bureau of investigation, (FBI) disclosed last Thursday that $8,300 of the $14,000 in traveler’s checks reported missing had turned up in Detroit on Monday.
Friday, the Lindbergh car was found in Minneapolis where it is said to have been abandoned Sunday morning at six o’clock, less than 12 hours after Lindbergh had been seen in the city.

Fifteen hundred and thirty dollars of the $1750 in silver coin which had been taken from the bank was found in the trunk of the car.

Another link in the fantastic chain of the events was supplied Tuesday, November 22, by the FBI disclosure that a Herbert F Johnson, Route 1, of Racine, Wisconsin had registered in a downtown Minneapolis hotel at 11:52 p.m. Friday, November 11. He was reported to have checked out of the hotel at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, November 13 at which time he cashed four $50 Bank of America travelers checks. A bellboy at the hotel said he had brought ice to the room at 3:30 a.m. at which time Johnson was alone in the room.

Sheriff Arthur Rambeck said numerous other leads have been investigated and found to have no basis. One of the reports-- is the report by Soo Line passenger train that a man and a car had been seen at 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday in the Detroit Lakes city dump with its headlights off and the door open and the dome light on.

Rambeck also disclosed that an area resident whose identity has not been made known, observed two men leaving the rear door of the bank on that fateful Saturday night at nine o’clock. The informant said that the larger of the two was carrying a satchel, and that the two got into a car further north from the one in which the observer was sitting.

The Detroit travelers checks were signed by Charles Kenwell and he used a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania address which TRF Police Chief Elton Cummings said was proved fictitious. Only $500 worth of checks were cashed, these at a Detroit hotel, $7,800 worth were left with a Detroit bank where Kenwell sought to open a checking account Monday afternoon.

Shortly before that, the same man had registered at the Detroit Statler Hotel and had given the credit clerk $10,000 in traveler’s checks for safekeeping. A half hour later he returned seeking to withdraw a portion of the checks. The clerk informed him that a partial withdrawal was not possible.

Kenwell then cashed $500 in checks and took the $10,000 worth of un-endorsed checks with him.
At the Detroit bank, he had said he would like to open a checking account with $7,800. Informed that he would first have to put his second signature on the checks, he began signing them. When he had endorsed $6,000 worth he said he was tired of writing and would come in the next day to finish. Meanwhile, he asked that the bank hold the other $1800, bearing only one signature, until the following day.

When asked for his credentials before formally opening the account, Kenwell was unable to furnish the bank with any identification. He said he left his billfold at the hotel and would bring it with him the following morning.

On Tuesday Kenwell purchased $275 worth of new luggage at Hudson’s, a leading Detroit department store, and wrote a personal check on the Detroit bank as payment. The store called the bank which advised them against excepting the check.

On the same day, two of the missing travelers checks were cashed in Chicago at Capitol Airlines and one at the Morrison Hotel. All three were of $20 denominations.
A $5,000 reward was offered by the Northern State Bank for information leading to the safe return of Kenneth Lindbergh. George Beito of Gonvick, who is the president of the bank said that all pertinent information should be given to Sheriff Art Rambeck.

Due to the policy of concrete information, numerous suppositions and theoretical solutions have been passed along until many people supposed them to be facts.

One of them was the information conveyed by the first letters of the name Charles D. Kenwell .(Called home as requested; left early Sunday Detroit. Ken well). Authorities pass that off, by saying it is an intriguing bit of detective work but cannot conceive any plausible excuse for the message.

They feel that the job could not possibly be the work of a professional bank robber because of the tactics used. Taking 100 pounds of silver, which has been established as the weight of $1750 in coins, -- of which $1100 was in relatively conspicuous silver dollars -- and then abandoning all but $220 of this portion of the booty, laying themselves open to a possible kidnapping charge, audaciously presenting such large amounts of travelers checks at a metropolitan bank, and other aspects in the case make it quite apparent for crime detection experts that it was not a work of a pro.

Meanwhile the distraught family is grasping for every thread of hope that Kenneth may return safely. Mrs. Lindbergh and the couple’s four children, Janice, 15, Ronald, 10; Evonne, 8; and Nancy, ; 1, live at 910 N. LaBree Avenue. A brother, Merle , is a business manager for the Starkow Clinic here. His parents Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh also live in this city, where Mr. Lindbergh is an appraiser for the Veterans Administration.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Previously we have offered articles which came from magazines. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and look at the newspaper articles from Thief River Falls, Minnesota. You will find the articles repetitive. By the time all the articles are printed, you will remember many of the details. Old Trunks considered summarizing the many pages but think in order to get the feel for it and put you back in time to the play by play, one needs to read each of the articles. If you wish to read the accounts in a clump fashion, you are encouraged to be mindful of the dates. Keep in mind that readers in 1955 and 1956 were reading this in the local paper Wednesdays only, although newspapers across Minnesota and beyond may have had bits and pieces on a more frequent basis.

On Wednesday, November 16, 1955


Kenneth Lindbergh Missing Since Saturday Evening

No tangible trace has been found of Kenneth Lindbergh, cashier of the Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls, who is thought to have been abducted after his disappearance Saturday night. He was last seen talking with a stranger who had made an after hours appointment, reportedly to leave $25,000 in current see for safekeeping. Also reported missing from the bank is $1,750 silver coin, and $14,000 into negotiable travelers checks.

Under the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement agencies throughout the upper Midwest are running down every possible lead in attempting to solve the bizarre episode.
Pennington County Sheriff Art Rambeck said an audit of the bank’s records is in the making and until that has been completed, it will not be possible to arrive at definite conclusions. He said such an audit is routine procedure for banks insured by a federal agency. He denied any knowledge of a ransom note having been received.

Lindbergh told his wife that he had a call from Minneapolis that morning and would be meeting the caller at the bank later in the afternoon to go over details of a business transaction which the caller had spoken.
He also told George Werstlein, the bank’s vice president, of the call, adding that this Mr. Johnson had told him he would be bringing in $25,000 in currency which he wished to leave in the bank vault over the weekend. Mr. Werstlein also said that Lindbergh told him of the second call from the stranger, asking that he reserved two rooms for Herbert Johnson and his secretary, Miss Hadley who would arrive on the three o’clock p.m. on a North Central air flight.

This Lindbergh did, calling the Pennington Hotel according to Mrs. G. B. Heller, who is on the desk at the time, this request for rooms came from Mr. Lindbergh at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Four men displaned here of whom three, Dennis Knutson of Warren, Charlie Christiansen of Roseau, and E. H. Pomerenke of Goodridge were area residents. The other registered man on the flight was J. O’Malley. A man of the same name had registered on a Friday flight from Chicago in to Minneapolis.

George Rockstad, TRF resident, gave the man a lift from the airport dropping him at the Stewart Hotel. Fred Plotz, who was on duty at the Stewart Hotel at the time said a man had inquired about a reservation for Mr. Johnson, but he had none.

Mrs. Harry Winter at the Pennington Hotel said a man asked about a reservation there and told her that Miss Hadley had not come in, but they were to hold a room for her that she would arrive on Sunday or Monday.
The man was carrying a sort of light brown leather traveling bag and was of medium height and build, according to Mrs. Winter. She’s said that he told her he would register when his luggage came up. The stranger remained in the lobby for about 15 minutes, conversing with her on occasion. Then he asked where the Northern State Bank was and left the hotel.

Mr. Werstlein, said a man came to the bank shortly after 4 p.m. and that Mr. Lindbergh introduced him as Mr. Johnson, after which the two retired to a front office in the bank. They sat in the office conversing for nearly 2 hours he said, and that, when prepared to leave, he asked Mr. Lindbergh if he could be of any help; the latter answered in the negative.

On returning to his apartment from the post office about 15 minutes later, Mr. Werstlein called at the bank and again Mr. Lindbergh said everything was going well.
Next word from the missing Lindbergh was a call to his wife Violet from Detroit Lakes saying he had driven over there in his car to complete that deal. It was near midnight and he told her he’d be home in about four hours.

First word to the Sheriff’s office that something was amiss came about 1 p.m. Sunday. Mrs. Lindbergh had called Mr. Werstlein saying that her husband had been expecting to drive back from Detroit Lakes Saturday night and he was not yet arrived.

The timing mechanism on the safe containing the bank’s currency was on and he could not gain entrance to it. However, the dial, had been turned to the point where the tumblers fall, and Werstlein surmised that Lindbergh had possibly been ordered to open the safe; and had worked the combination to prove that it could not be opened because the time lock was on.

In addition to the silver, Bank of America and American Express travelers checks were missing totaling $14,000. These were in denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100.

Sheriff Rambeck said that the Highway Patrol had relayed a report from Ben Fuhrman, a farmer, living near Grand Rapids, Minnesota that Fuhrman had seen a car bearing a license number 9G42-- in that area Tuesday evening. The license number of Lindbergh’s car is 9G4213. It is a two-tone green 1951 Buick with a white side wall tires.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Lindbergh’s key case, containing the keys to his car, was found in his pocket. It was pointed out that the ignition switch on the 1951 Buick makes it possible to drive the car without keys.

Positive identification of Lindbergh was made that Saturday by Sheriff Rambeck and Police Chief Cummings of Thief River Falls. They appeared at the Dare’s Funeral home in Elk River, the seat of Sherbourne County, 25 miles from Clear Lake, to view their friend’s remains.

An autopsy performed by Dr. James McCartney, head of the University of Minnesota Pathology Department, that day disclosed that Lindbergh was bludgeoned to death by repeated blows of the heavy, sharp weapon. Dr. Tesch, the coroner, said no bullet hole was found and withdrew his earlier guess. He said the death weapon could have been a hatchet or machete; that there were eight or 10 cuts on the top, back and side of the head, four to 5 inches long, all of which penetrated the skull.

Clear Lake is about 11 miles south of St. Cloud, Minnesota and about 50 miles northwest of Minneapolis, located on Highway 10, the busiest highway between the two cities.

Authorities put out a plea for motorists and residents to make a report if they saw a discarded brown topcoat anywhere along the highway. Witnesses in Thief River Falls said Herbert Johnson had such a coat when he came to their town, the witnesses in Minneapolis said he wore a gray coat when he checked out of the hotel. It was therefore believed that he had discarded the brown garment because it was bloodstain.

The state and federal authorities were now able to put together a pattern that fit the time elements. They knew that Kenneth Lindbergh had phoned his home from Detroit Lakes at 11:20 p.m. that Saturday night. Detroit Lakes is due south of Thief River Falls on Highway 59. Highway 10 cuts in at Detroit Lakes, leading south east to Clear Lake and Minneapolis, 197 miles away.
“He could have easily driven the Buick into Minneapolis in time to make that call to room service for ice at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday,” an officer said. “Looks to me like he killed Lindbergh, dumped the body, then came into Minneapolis, probably entering the city on Highway 169 which swings off Highway 10. This would bring him into Washington Avenue, heading for the hotel. He must have parked near the hotel, then returned to his room. After ordering the ice, and later the coffee, he left the hotel, got back into the car and drove it to the dark side street on the north side, parking it in front of the deserted house. Then he walked toward all night café on fourth and Broadway, called for a cab, rode to the hotel, held the cab, checked out, and then was gone.”

It was a good reconstruction, but there were still a lot of pieces missing to the puzzle. Dr. Orin D. Beich, Mayor elect a Thief River Falls brought the amount in a newspaper interview.

Stating that citizens of the town were puzzled as well as shocked by the slaying, Beich added that the elaborate maneuverings of the mystery killer before it after coming to Thief River Falls were difficult to fit into a pattern.

There were the calls to Lindbergh, the links the meeting at the bank, the phone call Lindbergh made to his wife, and the loot the killer got away with -- coins, that he discarded; travelers checks, most of which he had been unable to cash.

And why did he pick Thief River Falls? Questions fell almost as thick as snowflakes in northern Minnesota.
In the days that followed, several suspects were arrested, been released. A St. Paul man and his girlfriend were arrested in Munroe, Michigan held for several days, found innocent. Other suspects were picked up, none were considered suspicious enough to hold.

On Wednesday, December 30, Kenneth was buried in Thief River Falls. A loudspeaker system carried the service to more than 1000 people who crowded the chapel, Boy Scout room, recreation room, basement, as well as the main church. All the banks in town shut their doors at noon. Stores and businesses were closed from two to 3 p.m.

Sherburne County authorities issued a John Doe warrant for the slayer, but for a week after the funeral no developments were made public.

The FBI, meanwhile, had uncovered a hot lead and was following it through with the nationwide undercover manhunt. A fingerprint was found on one of the travelers checks left at the Detroit Bank. It matched the prints of an ex-con named James P. Taylor.

Taylor had been released from a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on October 29 after completing a sentence for interstate transportation of a stolen car.
His record also showed conviction on a charge of impersonating an FBI agent, which resulted in a 15 month sentence in a federal reformatory.

Taylor was described as 30 years old, medium-height, slender, handsome, dark hair, and able to put forth a suave, glib front.

A host of federal agents were placed on Taylor’s trail. The leads ran from Minneapolis to Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, and then to Joplin, in southwest Missouri.
On Tuesday, December 6, a complaint was issued in Detroit against Taylor, charging him with interstate transportation of cashiers checks taken from the Northern State Bank at the Thief River Falls.

Down in Joplin, federal agents were checking on a man who called himself Kenneth McKinney. They heard that McKinney, had registered at the Connor Hotel on November 1, three days after James P. Taylor was released from prison. He had been seen frequently until November 8, when he suddenly dropped out of sight.

On Saturday, December 3, he suddenly return to Joplin.
It was 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 8, when federal agents surrounded a stately two-story house on N. Jackson Avenue. It was the residence of a distinguished Joplin family. The family was shocked when the officers closed in and arrested their house guest, Kenneth McKinney.

Members of the Joplin family were in for quite a surprise. Their acquaintance with McKinney started on November 3, when he walked into a travel agency operated in a hotel lobby by two women, members of the family. Striking up a conversation with the younger woman, he asked for various travel schedules, telling her he was a writer who had come to Joplin to collect material for a story.

On following visits he stopped to chat with the young woman, and met other members of the family. They were impressed with his charm and gracious manners, and invited him to their home for a birthday celebration.
Before he left town on November 8, he remarked that he was planning a trip to Philadelphia for a few days and would drop them a line. He never did.

When he returned to Joplin on December 3, he contacted the young travel agent again, and she and her mother invited him to be their house guest. He said he intended staying in Joplin only a few days.

On his first visit to Joplin and he did not have a car. When he returned he had a Pontiac with Michigan license plates. He also had a new automatic rifle on his return, which he showed to the travel agents family. He did not show them the .22 caliber snub nose pistol, which agents found in the second-floor guest room that he occupied.

Agents also reported finding a $20 Bank of America travelers check among his possessions, which had a serial number corresponding to the check taken from the bank in Thief River Falls. And Detroit Bank books showing $3500 in a savings account and $2600 and a checking account, both in the name of Charles B. Kenwell. Add $801 in cash.

Reporters questioning members of the travel agent’s family received such a responses as:

“He was such a nice young man with the most gracious manners.”

“He had us all fooled.”

“He seemed like such a clean-cut proper person.”

The FBI clamped down on information. Anything of secrecy on the investigation, and removal the suspect to the Newton County Jail about 15 miles south of Joplin was secret.

Officers reported again he acknowledged he was Taylor, but maintained he had not broken the law since his release from prison. He refused to talk about how he came into possession of a stolen traveler’s check, a large sum of cash, the Detroit bank pass books and his whereabouts the day that Herbert Johnson left Thief River Falls with the bank cashier.

Pictures of Taylor were reportedly identified by employees of the Detroit bank as Charles B. Kenwell who’d been there.

Photos of the slender, well-dressed suspect were shown to persons in Minneapolis and Thief River Falls. They were reported to resemble Herbert Johnson.

The following week, James P. Taylor was transferred to Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis. He was viewed in the lineup by witnesses from Minneapolis and Thief River Falls, who were instructed by federal officers not to talk to newsmen. However, it has been learned that Taylor was identified by the witnesses.

On December 20, Taylor wavered preliminary hearing on the check transportation charge against him.
At this writing he is awaiting action on this federal charge, but federal and state authorities are still investigating the murder of Kenneth Lindbergh.

There is believe in some quarters that more than one man might be involved in the crime.

In the meantime, the citizenry of Thief River Falls anxiously wait for missing pieces of the puzzle fit together and solve a murder of Kenneth Lindbergh.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Checking the four names, and police chief and sheriff were quickly able to eliminate three of them. They were residents of the area, well known men, who were questioned as a matter of routine and a knowledge. They stated the fourth man was a stranger to them.
This fourth man had listed himself as J. O’Malley. The authorities were unable to tie that name to anyone in the area.

Bank officials were at a loss to explain ’s disappearance. His reputation was considered beyond reproach; he was a trusted employee for many years.

“And besides, there couldn’t have been any money taken from the bank,” the officials said. “Everything is kept in the vault.”

“Everything?” An officer asked.

“All the paper money,” the official said. ”Everything but some silver and the travelers checks.”

The officials said the vault’s time lock was set when the bank closed for routine business early Saturday afternoon.

Plans were made for an inventory when the bank opened the next morning -- Monday.

Kenneth did not appear in Thief River Falls and no calls were received from him throughout Sunday night and Monday morning.

An inventory at the bank showed cashed in the vault all intact.

But there was $14,000 in traveler’s checks and $1750 in silver coins missing.

“It doesn’t add up,” a puzzled bank official told the police.

‘I’d state everything on his honesty. And besides that, I can’t see him running out in his family -- especially for what’s missing. Those travelers checks are negotiable, but each one is a number and can easily be traced. And the silver -- 100 pounds of coin?

He couldn’t spend much of it at one time -- it would look too suspicious, especially now that news of this case is getting around. Why should a bank cashier who could have pulled off a much better robbery without even half trying to do so much, do such a foolish thing?”

The authorities had no answer because they too couldn’t see as a criminal. The sheriff and the police chief were both personal friends of the missing cashier. He had lived in Thief River Falls since he was 10, coming from another small Minnesota town.

He was now 44, had been with the bank since it started in 1935 had worked his way up to cashier -- a job he held for four years. He was a pillar in the community, an active member of the Trinity Lutheran Church, a devoted husband and father. For diversion he likes outdoor sports -- skating, hunting, and fishing.

The authorities drove to Detroit Lakes, where the desk clerk at the Greystone Hotel identified a picture of Lindberghh as the man who made the phone call about 11:20 p.m. Saturday.

“He made it from a phone booth,” the clerk said.

He reported that had been with a “mean looking man and rather nervous, a little on the chunky side.” He said the chunky man was seated in a chair at least 20 feet from the phone booth where Lindbergh made his call, and could not possibly have overheard the conversation.
The clerk said the chunky man scowled at him when he asked where he was going to go.

“I just tried to make a little friendly conversation, “ the clerk said. “He even snarled when I tried to talk to him about the weather.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and police throughout the Midwest were alerted to be on the lookout for Kenneth , the mysterious Mr. Johnson, and Lindbergh’s car. Investigation at Minneapolis turned up some interesting facts.

A well-dressed man, described as suave and dapper, had registered at the Nicolet Hotel as Herbert F. Johnson. Descriptions given by the night auditor and a bellhop tallied closely with those given in Thief River Falls by persons who had seen Johnson.

Johnson had checked into the hotel on Friday night, November 11, carrying a small dark satchel. The bellhop recalled carrying a grip to Mr. Johnson’s room, and remembered it was surprisingly heavy for its size.

The hotel records disclosed that at 3:27 a.m. on Sunday, November 13, Johnson called for ice, which the bellhop delivered. The bellhop said he received a $1.25 tip. He reported that Johnson appeared to be alone in his room.

At 5:15 a.m., Johnson ordered a large container of coffee. The same bellhop delivered it, and recalled remarking to Mr. Johnson that it appeared he intended to stay up all night.

At 6:25 a.m., Johnson appeared at the hotel desk to check out. The night auditor said that he appeared mild, neat and undisturbed, and that she talked with him about eight minutes. She gave him his bill for $20.40, and he asked if she would accept a traveler’s check. She agreed when he produced several credit cards and club membership cards made out to Herbert F. Johnson of Racine, Wisconsin.

She remarked that he had the same name and hometown as the president of the Johnson wax company, and the man retorted: “I am Mr. Johnson!”

The Hotel employees said Johnson had a large number of travelers checks a $50 denominations in loose fashion, not enclosed in the customary folder.

She said he appeared every inch the executive type, and up right. After she cashed a $50 check for his hotel bill, he had her cash two more, stating he wanted the cash to buy a plane ticket for New York.

She recalls that the New York plane was due to leave at 7 a.m. and Johnson didn’t appear to be doing the necessary rushing in order to catch it.

He asked her to get him a cab and she relayed this to the bellhop who appeared to be puzzled. She later learned that the bellhop noted that Johnson had a cab waiting; that he had brought the luggage down an already placed it in the waiting taxi.

Nobody recall seeing Johnson around the hotel Saturday afternoon or night.

The three travelers checks he cash were issued by the Bank of America, and had serial numbers corresponding to those listed as missing from the bank in Thief River Falls.

The night auditor said that she had been so taken in by Mr. Johnson’s act that later, when she was watching a television show put on by the Johnson Wax Company, she remarked to a friend that she had met the company’s president. The actual president of the Johnson Wax Company, Herbert F. Johnson was at a loss to explain why his identity was used. He told authorities he knew of no person answering the spurious Johnson’s description.

The cashing of travelers checks by forgery constituted a violation of federal law, allowing the FBI to take part in the investigation. Calvin B. Howard, head of the Minneapolis FBI office, move in quietly regarding his man and sat up liaison with FBI offices in other cities.

The FBI believed they picked up the trail of the mysterious Mr. Johnson in Detroit. On Tuesday, November 15, a man entered a Detroit bank for the purpose of opening an account. He said he wanted to deposit $7,800 worth of travelers checks. After signing $6,000 worth of the checks and various denominations, he was told he would have to produce further identification before he could withdraw on the account.
The man identified himself as Charles Kenwell and gave a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania address, told the bank officer that he would return the next day. He said he was tired of signing the checks, and would endorse the other $1800 worth when he returned. He left the checks and walked out.

He did not return, and the information was soon in the hands of the Detroit FBI office. The serial numbers of the travelers checks corresponded with the checks taken from the bank. The checks were dispatched to the FBI laboratory for fingerprint analysis.

Chicago agents picked up Mr. Johnson’s trail. He had cashed three travelers checks on November 16, one at the Morrison Hotel in the Loop and two at the Capitol Airlines counter. The casher of the checks fit Mr. Johnson’s description, and the checks serial numbers tallied with those missing from the Minnesota bank.

Back in Thief River Falls, anxiety grew as the days passed with no word from Kenneth..

On November 18, hope that he might be still alive was weakened when the missing bank cashier’s car was found parked in Minneapolis. A 1951 Buick was in front of a vacant house on 18th Ave North. A canvas of the neighborhood turned up a man who told agents he had noticed the car being parked about 5:45 a.m. the morning of November 13. He said a man wearing a gray overcoat and Homburg got out.

Other persons located by agents said they had noticed a man and a gray coat and Homburg walk into a nearby all night café and call a taxi. A cab driver was located who picked up the man, drove him to the Nicolet Hotel, waited, then drove him to the airport.

A search of the car turned up $1530 in rolled silver, all but about $200 of the coins taken from the bank.

On Friday, November 25, a week after police located the car, the body of Kenneth was found.

Three boys, aged 17, 10 and 8, where hunting rabbits on their father’s farm about 2 ½ miles south east of Clear Lake, Minnesota. The eldest son saw something that seemed to be a piece of canvas in the snow, and took a closer look. It was a body! With his brothers, he ran home and told his father, who called sheriff Chester Goenner of Sherbourne County.

In the dead man’s pockets, the sheriff found a credit letter addressed to Kenneth and the sportsmen’s club membership card bearing the same name. A hat, 10 feet from the body, had a label from a Thief River Falls store.
In a short while federal agents were at the scene.
Dr. Gordon Tesch, coroner for Sherburne County, said that the dead man had been beaten severely about the head, and that there appeared to be a bullet hole in the fore head between the eyes.

The sheriff noted that a thick, even, blanket of snow had covered the body, and no footprints were near it. ”Which means he was probably here before the last heavy snowfall on November 15.”

The sheriff went on to theorize that the body was probably carried to where it was found -- an obscure spot about 1 ½ miles south of Highway 10, near the shores of a small body of water called Crescent Lake. Nearby and towards the highway was a bluff with a barbed wire fence running across it.

“Looks like he was carried to the bluff, then tossed over the fence,” the sheriff said. “See broken bushes and twigs from the body rolling down?”

The body was 50 feet from the top of the bluff.
For Mrs. Lindbergh, the anxious days of waiting game to a horrible in when she learned of the finding of the body while watching a television program that night.

The woman went into shock, and a doctor was called.
Later, she issued a statement:
“In behalf of myself and my family I want to express my thanks for everything that has been said and done to help us face this terrible tragedy. We feel your honor and respect for Kenneth and we will all miss him. We can’t understand why such a terrible thing should happen in our community. We long for the day when all evil shall be overcome, and we’ll dedicate our lives to carry on in the inspiration and love we will always have for a beloved husband and father.”

The next day brought further developments. A search of the area where the body was found turned up about $200 in silver coins scattered about under the snow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


A small group of people waited at the airport of Thief River Falls, a town of some 8,000 in the north west corner of Minnesota. With only a few days to go until the start of the Christmas holiday, there was a festive feeling in the air, and those waiting for the Northwest airlines flight from Minneapolis undoubtedly expected loved ones. The plane landed at 3 p.m.., taxi to a ramp, and four men got off.

The waiting people split into three groups, each running to greet an arrival. There were kisses and hugs and excited voices and laughter, and then the three men and their friends left in automobiles.

The fourth man had stood alone through out the greetings scene, and he stood alone now. He turned his head, examining the field, administration building and road, the chilly northern air fluttering his brown, well tailored topcoat. Then he tugged his Homburg hat down tightly and went into the administration building.

He extracted a cigarette from an expensive case. As he lit it, light danced on his polished fingernails. He then walked to the building and into the taxicab outside, and asked to be taken to the Pennington Hotel.

It was Saturday afternoon, November 12, 1955. The cab driver made several attempts at conversation -- on how quiet it was in a small town on Saturday afternoon compared to a big city like Minneapolis, on the approaching holidays, on the weather. The passenger ignored him, looking out at the streets as they rode.

He carried his own luggage -- a small black bag -- as he walked into the hotel. He was of medium height, slender, and when he set down his bag and took off his hat he revealed dark, wavy hair. His eyes were dark and intense looking; his mouth full; his jaw was hard, pointed, the trait often called determined.

He told the desk clerk he was Herbert Johnson, and that Mr. Kenneth was to have made a reservation for him.
A clerk, Mrs. Harry Winter, looked through some cards, and found the one she wanted, and nodded.
“Mr. called this in this morning.” she said. ” We have a room for you, and for your secretary, Mrs. Hadley.”
The man thanked her, and said he would be back later in the day to check into the room.

“My secretary will arrive either tomorrow or Monday,” he said”. “Can you hold the room for her?”

Mrs. Winters said that could be arranged.

The man asked how to get to the Northern State Bank, and then walked out.

At 4:30 PM when he reached the bank.

In a moment the door was opened by a smiling, round faced man who shook his hand and said, ”Nice to meet you, Mr. Johnson. I am Ken .”

The pair went into the bank it into an interview booth.

The pair talked and laughed and were still involved in their discussion until 9 p.m. when the two men were seen leaving the back door of the building housing the bank, one carrying a satchel.

At 11:20 p.m., Lindbergh’s wife, Violet, received a long distance call from Detroit Lakes, a town of 6,200, 90 miles south of Thief River Falls. It was her husband. He said he was calling from the Greystone Hotel and was still tied up in a business deal and not to wait up.

When she awoke Sunday morning, she was startled to find that her husband had not slept in his bed. She went out to the garage. The family car, a 1951 Buick, was not there.

She phoned officials of the bank, and none of them had any idea where her husband may have gone.

As the day wore on she received no word from her husband, Mrs. Lindbergh’s alarm increased. She notified Thief River Falls Police Chief Elton Cummings and Pennington County Sheriff Arthur Rambeck.
All she could tell him was that on Saturday morning her husband had received a long-distance phone call from Minneapolis from a man who identified himself as Herbert Johnson. Johnson said he wanted to deposit $25,000 in the bank that afternoon for safekeeping until Monday, when he was to close of business deal.
Lindbergh had told him he would be glad to assist, and made arrangements to meet the man at the bank that afternoon.

The authorities contacted other members of the bank. No one there could supply information on the nature of the business dealing involving Mr. Johnson; it was a transaction that Lindbergh had been contacted about and it was handling alone.

The hotel was checked. The reservations had been made, and Mr. Johnson had appeared at 3:30 p.m. to confirm his reservation and to request that the one for his secretary he held up a day or two. But he had left about 4 p.m. and never returned to register.

The cab driver who had brought Mr. Johnson from the airport to the hotel was located.

At the airport, officers received news that had a foreboding sound. Only four men had gotten off the Saturday afternoon plane from Minneapolis, and none of them was a Mr. Johnson.