1 November 2007 | jdmilesm
Only verified eyewitness account of Brooke Hart kidnapping
The eyewitness accounts of kidnap victim Brooke Hart with five men in a car that had been seen repeatedly outside his family Department Store over the ten days prior to his kidnapping, but not after wards, is not a theory. Contained in the Brooke Hart FBI file is a detailed description of how both the Santa Clara County sheriff and the FBI verified the eyewitness accounts of a mother and her daughter who both saw Brooke Hart's Studenbaker President with two men in it one half hour after he had gone missing. Their physical description of a slender blond-haired young man matched the physical description of Brooke Hart. Almost immediately, a long-hooded dark sedan with four men in it pulled up next to Hart's Studebaker, and Hart was placed in the larger car. Hart was driven off with the four men, and another man followed that car in Hart's Studebaker. Later that night, a man who lived a mile and a half away from where the mother and daughter witnessed Brooke Hart being placed in the large car, reported that a Studebaker President convertible roadster was left abandoned near his home with its lights on.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Reed Vetterli wired J. Edgar Hoover that "five men in a large sedan with California plates" had kidnapped Brooke Hart. He then prepared a detailed summary of the interrogation of the mother and daughter in which he concluded that they were telling the truth. This eyewitness account was kept confidential until the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco made reference to it, and the press descended on the farm.
Despite having verified these eyewitness accounts, both the sheriff and the FBI denigrated the accounts of the two women to the press, and said they were of no value.
Between the time when the eyewitness accounts were verified and the U.S. Attorney announced their existence, two local San Jose men were arrested for the kidnapping of Brooke Hart. Following lengthy interrogation without legal representation, each of the men confessed to the kidnapping and the murder of Brooke Hart. Each man blamed the other for the crime. Absent evidence corroborating statements in these two confessions, neither was admissible in a court of law.
Although the two men had been taken for safekeeping to San Francisco, when the U.S. marshals tried to take them into custody after being indicted for mail fraud by a federal grand jury, the Santa Clara County sheriff returned them to San Jose, allegedly for arraignment. They were never indicted, arraigned, tried, or sentenced before their lynching, four days later, by a mob estimated by newspapers to be between 5000 to 15000 men women and children.
The car that accused men confessed to using for the kidnapping, murder, and extortion of ransom was a two door Chevrolet coupe, not a dark, long-hooded, four door (Buick or Dodge), identified by the two eyewitnesses on the night of the kidnapping, and by Hart store employees parked in the alley next to the store over the ten days prior to the kidnapping, but not after.
The non-fiction book JURY RIGGING IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC opinion factually documents the innocence of the two men lynched for this kidnapping and murder.