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Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Leopold, Nathan F. (1904-1971), and Richard A. Loeb (1905-1936)  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  

Loeb enticed the boy into the car with an offer of a ride. Although there has been some dispute as to who actually committed the murder, probably the boy was hit on the head with a chisel and then suffocated by Loeb as Leopold drove the car out of the city.

The conspirators disposed of the body in a culvert in a remote area near Wolf Lake in Hammond, Indiana, where Leopold frequently went birding. To make identification of the body more difficult, they doused it with hydrochloric acid.

Sponsor Message.

After returning to Chicago, Leopold called Franks's mother to tell her that her son had been kidnapped but was unharmed and to expect a ransom note. The conspirators burned their clothes that had been spattered with blood and cleaned bloodstains from the upholstery of the rented car.

The next morning they sent the Franks family a special delivery letter asking that they secure $10,000 in old, unmarked bills and telling them to expect further instructions that afternoon. At 3:00 p.m. Leopold called Jacob Franks, Bobby's father, to tell him a taxi cab was about to arrive at his home and that he should take it to a specified drugstore in South Chicago.

However, just as Franks was about to board the taxi, he received a call from his brother-in-law relaying news from the police that the body of his son had been found.

Apprehending the Criminals

With the discovery of the body of Bobby Franks by a Polish immigrant on May 22, 1924, the "perfect crime" planned by Leopold and Loeb soon unraveled.

The police found a pair of eyeglasses near the body. The glasses were ordinary horn-rimmed spectacles prescribed for reading, but they had a special hinge mechanism, and only three pairs of glasses with that mechanism had been sold in Chicago. One of them had been purchased by Leopold.

The head of the investigation, State's Attorney Robert E. Crowe, was sensitive to the social prominence and wealth of the Leopold and Loeb families, so on May 29, when the young men were interviewed by the police, the interviews were conducted in separate rooms at the LaSalle Hotel rather than in a police station.

When questioned about the glasses, Leopold claimed that he had lost them while bird watching near where Franks's body was found.

Loeb provided an alibi, telling the police that Leopold was with him the night of the murder. According to their story, the young men had picked up two women in Leopold's car.

The alibi quickly fell apart, however, when two days later the Leopold family chauffeur, in the hopes of proving Leopold innocent, revealed that his car was in the garage that night.

In addition, police found that typewritten notes prepared by Leopold for his study group matched the type from the ransom note.

Under persistent questioning, the young men soon confessed: Loeb first, then Leopold. Although their separate confessions agreed in most details, each blamed the other for the actual murder.

Leopold later pleaded with Loeb to admit that he killed Franks but, according to Leopold, Loeb said, "Mompsie feels less terrible than she might, thinking you did it and I'm not going to take that shred of comfort away from her."

According to State's Attorney Crowe, it made no difference which of the two actually killed the boy. He would seek the death penalty for both of them.

Aftermath of the Arrests

In the days after their arrest, Leopold and Loeb were constantly featured in the Chicago newspapers, which emphasized their wealth, intelligence, and "perversion," as well as their lack of remorse for killing a child. The newspapers and the public demanded immediate and retributive justice.

Although there was little obvious anti-Semitism in the newspaper coverage, the arrest of the sons of prominent Jewish families created particular anguish within Chicago's large Jewish community. Meyer Levin, author of Compulsion, noted that "there was one gruesome note of relief in this affair. One heard it uttered only amongst ourselves--a relief that the victim too had been Jewish. Though racial aspects were never overtly raised in the case, being perhaps eclipsed by the sensational suggestions of perversion, we were never free of the thought that the murderers were Jews."

Indeed, the newspaper reports on the murder used terms like "abnormal" or "perverted" to describe the suspects, often as sufficient explanation as to why the sons of wealthy families would commit such a heinous crime. However, details of the relationship between Leopold and Loeb were mostly suppressed, undoubtedly because newspapers were reluctant to report on homosexuality in any specifics for a family audience.

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