St. Louis was then even more shocked by the revelation that the kidnapping was planned by prominent local socialite and part-time criminal mastermind, Nellie Muench. Despite being married to a respectable doctor and the sister of a Missouri Supreme Court judge, the well-known party girl had money problems, and ample evidence suggested she had orchestrated the abduction to keep her lifelong party going.
It seemed like an open-and-shut case, until the charismatic Muench appeared at her trial nursing her newborn baby, whom she tearfully called "a gift from God in my time of distress." If she'd then launched into a brassy jazz number, they could have made Chicago as a serious biopic. As it was, the jury duly acquitted her, but then she was immediately re-arrested ... for baby theft.
Yeah, it turns out that Muench had decided to buy a baby to make herself look sympathetic at trial. She paid $50 for the child of a 19-year-old maid, who eventually had second thoughts, demanded her baby back, and went to the courts when Muench refused. Muench was finally convicted of a list of crimes that presumably unrolled all the way down to the ground and out the courthouse door, while the baby was ... returned to its mother. You know, the one who sold it. Listen, it was a different time.