Science Leaves No Case Unturned

The so-called "Lindy Baby Ladder," which Forest Products Laboratory Botanist Arthur Koehler used to convict Bruno Hauptmann.

Forest Products Laboratory Botanist Arthur Koehler tied the ladder in this picture to the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby in the 1930s.

Here at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) we are proud of the groundbreaking, high-impact work we have been performing for over 100 years. We like to say this work has improved the lives of all Americans. Our aim is to make sure this legacy continues over the next 100 years.

To this day, however, none of this work has received higher visibility than FPL’s foray into forensic botany, and our first-of-the-kind efforts that resulted in the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann in the infamous, headline-grabbing Lindbergh baby kidnapping and murder in the 1930s.

FPL Botanist Arthur Koehler’s work and ensuing testimony tied Hauptmann to the wooden ladder used in the kidnapping, which ultimately made the case for the prosecution and sent to Hauptmann to the electric chair.

In this offering, How Trees Help Solve Murders, the online publication The Atlas drills into forensic botany and its current uses. It even has a word with FPL’s current wood sleuth,  Alex Widenhoeft, who offers his take on this science. He’ll tell you it’s all in a day’s work, but we know he’s barking up the wrong tree.