The kidnapping of Peter Weinberger on July 4, 1956, in Long Island, New York, led to a significant change in legislation by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. This change allowed federal investigators to intervene in kidnapping cases after just 24 hours of a child being missing, as opposed to the previous 7-day waiting period.

Beatrice “Betty” Weinberger left her 1-month-old son, Peter, in a carriage on their porch while he slept, only to return a few minutes later to find him missing and a ransom note left behind by the kidnapper. The note, written in pencil, expressed desperation for money but promised the safe return of the baby if a ransom of $2,000 was paid in small bills. The kidnapper, signing as “Your baby sitter,” threatened harm if his demands were not met.

Despite efforts to keep the case out of the media, the story made front-page headlines in the New York Daily News, attracting widespread attention. Police set up a decoy ransom package, but the kidnapper never collected it. The FBI became involved in the case, analyzing millions of writing samples to identify the perpetrator.

Angelo John LaMarca, a truck and taxi driver from Plainview, New York, was arrested after his handwriting matched that of the ransom notes. LaMarca initially denied involvement but later confessed to kidnapping Peter. He explained that financial desperation drove him to commit the crime, and he ultimately led authorities to the location where he had left the baby’s remains.

During the trial, LaMarca tried to plead temporary insanity, but the evidence showed that Peter had died from asphyxia, starvation, and exposure at around 6 weeks old. LaMarca was found guilty of kidnapping and murder, sentenced to death, and ultimately executed in 1958.

The tragic case of Peter Weinberger serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of crimes against children and the lengths to which individuals may go when facing financial desperation. The swift action taken by law enforcement and the involvement of federal agencies were crucial in solving the case and bringing the perpetrator to justice.

This case also highlights the importance of ongoing efforts to prevent and address crimes against children, as well as the role of legislation in ensuring swift and effective responses to such incidents. The legacy of Peter Weinberger lives on as a reminder of the need to protect the most vulnerable members of society and seek justice for those who have been wronged.