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How the Kidnapping of One-Month-Old Baby Forced President Eisenhower to Introduce New Law

In the ransom note, the kidnapper apologized for their actions and shared that they had to do this because they needed money.
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by WoodysMedia
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by WoodysMedia

The kidnapping of a one-month-old in 1956 brought in a change in laws in the USA. Peter Weinberger was just one month old when he was taken from the patio of his home in Westbury, New York, according to the FBI.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata

The kidnapping of Peter Weinberger caused the lawmakers to formulate new legislation that reduced the waiting period from seven days to 24 hours for federal investigators to get involved in a kidnapping case, Fox reported.

The legislation was passed and made into law by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower during his presidency.

The kidnapping happened on July 4, 1956, as per the FBI. Peter Weinberger's mother, Betty Weinberger, wrapped her son in a receiving blanket and placed him in his carriage in front of their home. Then she went inside as he slept. 

When Betty Weinberger came back to check on her son, she found a ransom note in his place, according to the FBI.

In the note, the kidnapper apologized for their actions and shared that they had to do this because they needed money. They demanded $2,000 for the safe return of the child. The ransom note also mentioned the drop-off location for the money. 

The kidnapper promised that they would return the boy “safe and happy” if their demand was met, according to the FBI. They also threatened that the boy would be killed at the “first wrong move” by the parents.

Despite the threat, the mother contacted the Nassau County Police Department.


Morris Weinberger, the father, requested the newspapers not to publish about his son's kidnapping, fearing that the perpetrator would be alerted to their actions, as per the FBI. Barring one newspaper, every publication accepted his request.

The kidnapping was featured on the front page of the New York Daily News. Soon, reporters surrounded the drop-off location where the money was to be given to the kidnapper.

Police left a package filled with the demanded cash amount at the location but the kidnapper never showed up, according to the FBI. On July 10, six days after the kidnapping, the perpetrator called the Weinberger home two times and gave two separate locations to drop off the money. The kidnapper did not show up at either of the places to take the money. 

At the second location, police found a blue cloth bag alongside a curb with a note inside it, as per the FBI. The note had instructions for the parents on how to find the baby if "everything goes smooth."

The note was sent for examination to experts who concluded that the same person wrote the original ransom note and the one found in the blue bag. On July 11, the FBI took over the case after the required seven-day wait period.

The organization started on the case by setting up a temporary headquarters in Mineola, Long Island, according to the FBI. The only evidence the FBI had to work with was the ransom notes.

Several special agents took a crash course in handwriting analysis from experts. They analyzed samples available with the New York State Motor Vehicle Bureau, federal and state probation offices, schools, aircraft plants, and various municipalities. 


After going through almost two million samples, an agent at the U.S. Probation Office in Brooklyn noticed similarities between the writing in the notes with that of Angelo LaMarca. LaMarca had been arrested in the past for bootlegging by the Treasury Department.

Investigators looked into LaMarca and found that the man lived with his wife and two children in Plainview, New York. He was living in a house with his family that he could not afford and had multiple unpaid bills. A loan shark was also chasing him due to his debt.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by  Viviana Camacho
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Viviana Camacho

FBI took LaMarca for questioning, and initially, he denied his involvement in the kidnapping, as per the FBI. After he was confronted with the handwriting samples, he confessed to his actions.

LaMarca, who worked as a taxi dispatcher and truck driver, was driving around Westbury thinking about his money woes when he came across the Weinberger house. He saw the boy lying in his carriage unattended and on impulse scribbled a note in his truck and took away the baby.

LaMarca shared with the investigators that he did show up at the first drop site but went away after seeing all the commotion, according to the FBI. He got scared and left the baby alive in some heavy brush just off a highway exit. 

Authorities ordered a search in the area, as per the FBI. At first, officials found a diaper pin and ultimately the decomposed remains of Peter Weinberger.

In late 1956, LaMarca went on trial and was found guilty by a jury on kidnapping and murder charges. On December 14, he was sentenced to death. After multiple appeals, Angelo LaMarca was executed at Sing Sing Prison on August 7, 1958.

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