Lindbergh Baby Lands in Dallas-But Will His Story Fly?

Its been a bullish year for mystery clearance sales.

First, there was the Houston businessman who convincingly pitched the theory that Amelia Earhart was captured by the Japanese and then executed for spying seven years later. Then new questions were raised about the guilt of Bruno Hauptmann, executed in April 1936 for the kidnap-murder of Charles Lindbergh’s child. Hauptmann’s widow is pitching that one.

But the Dallas County Sheriffs office has one that will top them all.

No, it’s not the theory that the Lindbergh Baby was never killed at all. That one’s nothing new. It’s who’s pitching it that’ll really slay you: the Lindbergh Baby himself, he says.

The alleged former baby, who would now be fifty-six, goes by the name of Don Staser, but usually signs his name “Don Staser/Charles Lindbergh Jr.” He has been in contact with the sheriffs office for about three years now. According to Jim Ewell, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, the man first appeared in 1983, asking for help from a fingerprint expert. ?’The guy said he needed to be put up with someone to help him with documenting his lineage,” Ewell recalls.

Had the man tried this gambit at the police station, he might have been “put up” for sure. But the sheriff is an elected official, and for all the staff knew, Charles Lindbergh II was a registered voter.

Lt. Jim Cron, the fingerprint expert, says, “He was nice enough that they wanted to appease him. A nut, but not a raving maniac. He really feels like he’s Charles Lindbergh Jr. And he had a set of fingerprints he said were taken off objects in the Lindbergh house, prints that belonged to the kid.”

Cron compared the prints of Charles Lindbergh II the Baby to Charles Lindbergh II (he Man. They didn’t match, but you don’t get to be Charles Lindbergh II by going around taking no for an answer. “He had done a lot more research on the fingerprints,” Cron says. ’”He presented a very ingenious-and, to a layman, very plausible-theory that over time, finger-prints change.”

In other words, you can be born with the Lindbergh loops and wake up one day in late mid-die life with Joe Blow’s whorls. And the pretender to the throne also had a long list of physical similarities between Charles the Baby and Charles the Man. “It was so good I was thinking about putting it in our national newsletter,” says Cron. “|He had it figured] on a value system. This factor’s worth one point, that factor’s worth two, that sort of thing. Using his own system, he has proved that he’s this dead baby. But in my opinion, the prints he gave me are not his prints. The whole point of fingerprints is that they don’t change.”

Staser/Lindbergh has an uncanny ability to convince people, to sow doubt in the minds of even the experts. Said Cron: “I tell you what, though: I’d be glad to look at them again. On this other stuff, the list of similarities proving that he’s Lindbergh’s son, well, I’m not going to be crazy enough to say that he’s not. The envelope all this came in was sent in care of a doctor in Lafayette, Louisiana. I’ve got a number for the doctor. I don’t know if it’s a sanitarium or what.”

Actually, we learned, the phone number belongs to the Lafayette Institute of Behavioral Therapy in Louisiana. There he asked Dr. Hunter Shirley, a clinical psychologist and hypnotist, to hypnotically regress him back to the good old days at Hopewell, New Jersey, where the Lindberghs lived.

Shirley tried, but Lindy turned out to be “allergic to hypnosis,” he said. He got some images of the nursery at Chez Lindbergh, but he readily admits that he’s seen pictures of the room and his hypnotized mind could have déjà-viewed the whole thing from that.

Charles II, now living in his car and supporting himself via a biweekly gig at a Lafayette blood bank, said he didn’t know he was Lindbergh until 1978, when one day, while driving his cab in Fort Worth, he stumbled across an article about Anthony Scaduto’s book. Scapegoat: The Lonesome Death of Bruno Richard Hauptmann. It gave him a funny feeling, and after reading the book. Staser/Lindbergh knew who he really was.

“He’s not suffering from any delusions,” said Dr. Shirley. “Yes, this thing may be a delusion, but it’s one like where you think you can beat a friend at tennis. You might be wrong, but you’re not crazy.”

So Staser/Lindbergh has even begun to convert his psychiatrist. “Yeah. I am about halfway convinced.” Shirley says. “This guy’s not a nut. he’s not a con man. he’s not out to get anybody. He’s not out tor money. He uses every penny he can get to hire experts and he lives in a car.” In addition to all the purported evidence, said Shirley, there’s the face. “His face resembles the Lindbergh faces very much. He does have the look. You look at his face and then look at the Lindberghs”, and he might have been one of their kids-just in the sense that he has the look. All kinds of things, from his ear lobes to his feet.”

And Shirley isn’t the only expert preoccupied with the strange case of Don Staser/ Charles Lindbergh II. A North Carolina forensic pathologist, Dr. Glenn Larkin. has been following the case for almost two years now. He has never believed the body found was that of the real Lindbergh baby. However, Larkin is somewhat doubtful that, even if Staser were in fact Lindbergh, he could ever prove it. “The burden of proof is on Don/Charles, and it’s a mountain.”

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