And so the case ended with as many questions open as answered, all of which are laid out in Cemetery John with precision. And then, with new evidence and equal precision, the author proceeds to answer each one.
The author’s father, Eugene C. Zorn, Jr., who became a nationally respected economist, grew up in the Bronx three doors down from a German immigrant delicatessen clerk named John Knoll. On a summer day in 1931, Knoll, then 27, had taken 15-year-old Eugene Zorn, with whom he shared an interest in stamp collecting, to a day at the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. There they met up with Knoll’s brother and another man named Bruno, and the three spoke together in German. Some 30 years later, upon reading a magazine article about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Zorn suddenly began putting together bits and pieces he had overheard and observed about his neighbor and realized that they were all pointing toward the conclusion that Knoll had been a part of the crime.
Eugene Zorn died in 2006 at the age of 90. On his deathbed, his son, author Robert Zorn, promised that he would continue uncovering the truth about the kidnapping. The author has kept that promise in a book both judicious and gripping.
“I’m convinced that John Knoll engineered and carried out the Lindbergh kidnapping and that he was Cemetery John,” said retired FBI special agent Edward F. Sulzbach. “I taught students in my criminal profiling classes at Quantico that life is simply not that coincidental, and there are too many compelling pieces of evidence that point squarely at Knoll for him not to have been involved. And like the physical profile, the behavioral profile of the ringleader of this crime matches the personality profile of John Knoll, not that of Hauptmann, who was a common criminal and not a leader type.”
Robert Zorn’s account of his own investigation into this 80-year-old mystery is as compelling and dramatic as the crime itself. The term “page turner” is used too frequently, but Cemetery John is just that. Once you start reading it, you will not stop. This book should be on the top of everyone’s summer reading list. You won’t be disappointed.
Arthur T. Vanderbilt, II is the author of “Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt” and many other nonfiction books. He was inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame in 2001.