7 – Leopold & Loeb Killing for Kicks
Being high intelligent and benefiting from wealthy backgrounds didn’t prevent Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb from committing one of the most heinous murders of the 1920s. On the face of it, both men should have been destined for a comfortable life, possibly even a great one. Loeb’s father was vice president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, while Leopold’s father was a shipping magnate. They were geniuses who went to the University of Chicago at an astonishingly young age. In college, they had a sexual relationship.
Rather than using his gifts for good, Loeb dreamed of becoming a master criminal and enjoyed committing arson, robberies and other crimes. Leopold was very much the submissive partner in all of the above and Loeb used to entice him to go on these expeditions with the promise of sexual favors. Eventually, Loeb wanted to commit the ultimate crime: The kidnap and murder of a child.
As such, 14-year old Bobby Franks was merely a victim of circumstance. He was Loeb’s cousin, so he had no qualms about jumping into Loeb’s car on May 21, 1924. The criminal duo used a chisel covered with tape as a club to beat Franks to death. They put a rag down his throat and covered Franks’ mouth in tape. They dumped his body and mailed a ransom note to Frank’s parents demanding $10,000 for the return of their son.
Far from being the ‘perfect crime’ that Leopold and Loeb dreamt of, Leopold made an idiotic mistake that led to their swift capture. He dropped a pair of glasses near the body. These glasses had an unusual hinge which meant they were traced to a Chicago optometrist who confirmed they were Leopold’s. Both men quickly fell apart under questioning and were convicted of murder in a trial that captivated the nation. Famed attorney Clarence Darrow saved them from execution, but they both received 99 plus years in prison. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936 while Leopold was released in 1958.