Cemetery John

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Cemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping is a non-fiction book written by American author Robert Zorn, published in 2012 by The Overlook Press.


Cemetery John is a pseudonym used in the Lindbergh kidnapping case to refer a kidnapper calling himself “John” who collected a $50,000 ransom in a Bronx cemetery. On March 1, 1932, Charlie Lindbergh, the infant son of world-famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, was kidnapped from the nursery of his home near Hopewell, New Jersey. Seventy-two days later, after the ransom had been paid, the baby’s body was discovered in the woods about four miles from the Lindbergh estate.

The identity of Cemetery John eluded generations of investigators and researchers of the Lindbergh case. In his book, Zorn contends that John Knoll, a German immigrant previously unknown to history, was Cemetery John. Knoll was a neighbor of Zorn’s then-teenage father, Eugene C. Zorn, Jr., in the South Bronx at the time of the kidnapping. In December 1963, the elder Zorn, a nationally renowned economist, happened across an article about the Lindbergh kidnapping in True magazine and learned details about the crime with which he had been unfamiliar. He was convinced that as a fifteen-year-old boy, he had unwittingly witnessed John Knoll and his younger brother, Walter Knoll, conspiring at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey with Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the man who went to the electric chair for the murder of the Lindbergh baby.

In their foreword to the book, retired criminal profiler John Douglas, who founded the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and ran it for twenty-five years, and his frequent co-author, Mark Olshaker, called John and Walter Knoll “the best fit anyone had ever come up with" as suspects in the Lindbergh case. "If this had been an actual police investigation, this is where we would advise them to concentrate their investigative efforts," added Douglas and Olshaker.[1]

Former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne, an expert on the case, said, "Based on strong and compelling evidence, Cemetery John identifies the two undiscovered German immigrant brothers who teamed with Bruno Richard Hauptmann to kidnap the Lindbergh baby."[2]


  1. ^ Cemetery John, p. 13
  2. ^ Back cover of Cemetery John