Leopold and Loeb's Criminal Minds | History | Smithsonian
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were exceptionally wealthy, in relationships with others, they had few resources or moral guidance and. As Leopold and Loeb entered their teenage years, they were already far beyond he contracted gonorrhea, forcing him to ask his brothers and uncle for advice. They began their sexual relationship that night, Loeb joining Leopold in his. [To further explore the psychiatric testimony in the Leopold and Loeb hearing, the best . [that] the underworld came to him and sought his advice and asked for his . [What did you learn about the relationship between Leopold and Loeb?].
This would grow into a collection of over 1, specimens, which he displayed in his third floor study. When Loeb was 13, he graduated from high school, only a year after his brother Ernest who was four years his elder. Always precocious, when he learned that he could skip grades and graduate faster by studying, and with the encouragement of his governess and teachers, he began to apply himself to schoolwork with incredible zeal. This is remarked upon in his senior yearbook, in which he is played by three different versions of himself: And indeed in his two years of high school he was in the Literary, Engineering and Discussion clubs as well as being Treasurer for the Freshman class on top of his extra classes and tutoring.
It was marked in this same yearbook that he intended to attend Sorbonne, The University of Paris, the following year, though he ended up staying closer to home. At fourteen years old he entered the University of Chicago, where he remained for two years, living at home and taking general education courses. He refused and she moved to Boston, though she continued to write and visit with her former charge.
She insisted that when she left him, Loeb was a model student and teenager if an occasionally lazy and selfish one and that the drastic change in him that she later observed in must have come from outside immoral influences leading him astray.
When he was 15 he had sex for the first time with a prostitute. After he went back to her a few times he contracted gonorrhea, forcing him to ask his brothers and uncle for advice. Years later he wrote to friends who were having trouble with their gifted son, revealing his insight into where he and Loeb may have gone wrong: Intellectually he will be at least their equal; physically and socially, he will not.
Further, being younger than all the rest puts a kid in a challenging position. Since this will undoubtedly involve some socially undesirable things: If I had not been three or four years younger than the kids I palled with I entered college at 15I might not have ended up where I did!
As they spent more time together that fall, they moved past their dislike and became close friends. It was then common practice with Loeb to bring a friend or two to share the vacations with him and his family, as he had no cousins or brothers close to his own age to entertain him.
On the train ride to Michigan that February, the teenagers shared a compartment for the overnight journey. It was here, when talk turned to sex, that Leopold told Loeb, not only that he was homosexual, but also that he had developed an intense crush on Loeb himself.
Apparently taking this well, Loeb confessed that he had a secret too, that he was not the straight-laced boy that he seemed, but he actually harbored dreams of a life of crime and deception.
When Leopold helped him instead of turning him in, he knew that his new friend was someone he could trust. Leopold recalled this event with psychiatrists as the most thrilling experience of his life: The rest of the vacation would be spent attempting and failing to cheat the Loeb family at cards between frequent rounds of mutual masturbation and sex play. Their families, none the wiser, were proud of their precocious young men. Leopold spent part of the summer of at the Loeb mansion in Charlevoix, bird-watching in the mornings and staying out with Loeb in the afternoons and evenings.
Whether or not this specific incident happened, Leopold later admitted that he enjoyed thinking about torturing and killing Hamlin and that he and Loeb had gone so far as to create a plan and gather the supplies what would become their customary arsenal of a rope, chisel and guns to do so, in the winter ofthough they never went through with it.
Hamlin was later one of the first choices for a victim when they began to think about a perfect crime. He told Allan of his discovering the boys together and their adventure on the lake. After Allan confronted Leopold and Loeb about it, both of them denying any knowledge of what Hamlin accused them of, Hamlin was fired and told to stay away from the family.
Indignant, Hamlin returned to the University of Michigan where he began telling his friends about the two dangerous and overly friendly teenagers he had spent his last few months with.
In the fall ofafter Loeb had completed two years at the University of Chicago, he was ready for a change. He decided to transfer and Leopold, assuming they would continue to be in close contact, quickly followed behind him. Richard Loeb center with some of his fraternity brothers in the UoM yearbook Leopold, who was delayed for several weeks with scarlet fever, finally joined Loeb at the University of Michigan in September, moving into their shared apartment.
When confronted, Loeb admitted being cold to him, explaining that it was his attempt to stop the rumors Hamlin had started from gaining any ground.
Eventually Loeb managed to quiet Leopold's complaints with reassurances of his affection and loyalty. And as they continued to drive along the country roads in the direction of Chicago, Loeb started to talk about his idea to carry out the perfect crime.
The Redemption of Nathan Leopold, Maybe | Helen Andrews | First Things
They had committed several burglaries together, and they had set fires on a couple of occasions, but none of their misdeeds had been reported in the newspapers.
Loeb wanted to commit a crime that would set all of Chicago talking. What could be more sensational than the kidnapping and murder of a child? If they demanded a ransom from the parents, so much the better. It would be a difficult and complex task to obtain the ransom without being caught. To kidnap a child would be an act of daring—and no one, Loeb proclaimed, would ever know who had accomplished it. Leopold and Loeb had met in the summer of Leopold was a brilliant student who matriculated at the University of Chicago at the age of He also earned distinction as an amateur ornithologist, publishing two papers in The Auk, the leading ornithological journal in the United States.
His family was wealthy and well connected. His father was an astute businessman who had inherited a shipping company and had made a second fortune in aluminum can and paper box manufacturing. InLeopold, 19, was studying law at the University of Chicago; everyone expected that his career would be one of distinction and honor.
Richard Loeb, 18, also came from a wealthy family. The third son in a family of four boys, Loeb had distinguished himself early, graduating from University High School at the age of 14 and matriculating later the same year at the University of Chicago. His experience as a student at the university, however, was not a happy one. Loeb's classmates were several years older and he earned only mediocre grades.
At the end of his sophomore year, he transferred to the University of Michigan, where he remained a lackluster student who spent more time playing cards and reading dime novels than sitting in the classroom. And he became an alcoholic during his years at Ann Arbor.
Teenage Years | The Lives and Legends of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold
Nevertheless he managed to graduate from Michigan, and in he was back in Chicago, taking graduate courses in history at the university. The two teenagers had renewed their friendship upon Loeb's return to Chicago in the fall of They seemed to have little in common—Loeb was gregarious and extroverted; Leopold misanthropic and aloof—yet they soon became intimate companions.
And the more Leopold learned about Loeb, the stronger his attraction for the other boy. Loeb was impossibly good-looking: That Loeb would often indulge in purposeless, destructive behavior—stealing cars, setting fires and smashing storefront windows—did nothing to diminish Leopold's desire for Loeb's companionship. Loeb loved to play a dangerous game, and he sought always to raise the stakes.
His vandalism was a source of intense exhilaration. It pleased him also that he could rely on Leopold to accompany him on his escapades; a companion whose admiration reinforced Loeb's self-image as a master criminal. True, Leopold was annoyingly egotistical. He had an irritating habit of bragging about his supposed accomplishments, and it quickly became tiresome to listen to Leopold's empty, untrue boast that he could speak 15 languages.
Leopold also had a tedious obsession with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. He would talk endlessly about the mythical superman who, because he was a superman, stood outside the law, beyond any moral code that might constrain the actions of ordinary men.
Even murder, Leopold claimed, was an acceptable act for a superman to commit if the deed gave him pleasure. Morality did not apply in such a case. Leopold had no objection to Loeb's plan to kidnap a child. They spent long hours together that winter, discussing the crime and planning its details. After much debate they came up with a plan they thought foolproof: They would be waiting below in a car; as soon as the ransom hit the ground, they would scoop it up and make good their escape.
On the afternoon of May 21,Leopold and Loeb drove their rental car slowly around the streets of the South Side of Chicago, looking for a possible victim. At 5 o'clock, after driving around Kenwood for two hours, they were ready to abandon the kidnapping for another day. But as Leopold drove north along Ellis Avenue, Loeb, sitting in the rear passenger seat, suddenly saw his cousin, Bobby Franks, walking south on the opposite side of the road.
Bobby's father, Loeb knew, was a wealthy businessman who would be able to pay the ransom. He tapped Leopold on the shoulder to indicate they had found their victim. Leopold turned the car in a circle, driving slowly down Ellis Avenue, gradually pulling alongside Bobby. The boy turned slightly to see the Willys-Knight stop by the curb. Loeb leaned forward, into the front passenger seat, to open the front door.
I'll give you a ride. I want to get one for my brother. He was standing by the side of the car.
The Redemption of Nathan Leopold, Maybe
Loeb looked at him through the open window. Bobby was so close Loeb could have grabbed him and pulled him inside, but he continued talking, hoping to persuade the boy to climb into the front seat.
Bobby stepped onto the running board. The front passenger door was open, inviting the boy inside Loeb gestured toward his companion, "You know Leopold, don't you? The car slowly accelerated down Ellis Avenue. As it passed 49th Street, Loeb felt on the car seat beside him for the chisel.
Where had it gone? They had taped up the blade so that the blunt end—the handle—could be used as a club. Loeb felt it in his hand. He grasped it more firmly. At 50th Street, Leopold turned the car left. As it made the turn, Bobby looked away from Loeb and glanced toward the front of the car. Loeb reached over the seat. He grabbed the boy from behind with his left hand, covering Bobby's mouth to stop him from crying out.
He brought the chisel down hard—it smashed into the back of the boy's skull. Once again he pounded the chisel into the skull with as much force as possible—but the boy was still conscious. Bobby had now twisted halfway around in the seat, facing back to Loeb, desperately raising his arms as though to protect himself from the blows.
Loeb smashed the chisel down two more times into Bobby's forehead, but still he struggled for his life. The fourth blow had gashed a large hole in the boy's forehead. Blood from the wound was everywhere, spreading across the seat, splashed onto Leopold's trousers, spilling onto the floor.
It was inexplicable, Loeb thought, that Bobby was still conscious. Surely those four blows would have knocked him out?
Loeb reached down and pulled Bobby suddenly upwards, over the front seat into the back of the car. He jammed a rag down the boy's throat, stuffing it down as hard as possible. He tore off a large strip of adhesive tape and taped the mouth shut. The boy's moaning and crying had stopped.
Loeb relaxed his grip. Bobby slid off his lap and lay crumpled at his feet. Leopold and Loeb had expected to carry out the perfect crime. But as they disposed of the body—in a culvert at a remote spot several miles south of Chicago—a pair of eyeglasses fell from Leopold's jacket onto the muddy ground.
Upon returning to the city, Leopold dropped the ransom letter into a post box; it would arrive at the Franks house at 8 o'clock the next morning. The following day, a passerby spotted the body and notified the police. The Franks family confirmed the identity of the victim as that of year-old Bobby.
The perfect crime had unraveled and now there was no longer any thought, on the part of Leopold and Loeb, of attempting to collect the ransom. By tracing Leopold's ownership of the eyeglasses, the state's attorney, Robert Crowe, was able to determine that Leopold and Loeb were the leading suspects.
Ten days after the murder, on May 31, both boys confessed and demonstrated to the state's attorney how they had killed Bobby Franks. Crowe boasted to the press that it would be "the most complete case ever presented to a grand or petit jury" and that the defendants would certainly hang. Leopold and Loeb had confessed and shown the police crucial evidence—the typewriter used for the ransom letter—that linked them to the crime. The trial, Crowe quickly realized, would be a sensation.
Nathan Leopold admitted they had murdered Bobby solely for the thrill of the experience.
Crowe also realized that he could turn the case to his own advantage. He was 45 years old, yet already he had had an illustrious career as chief justice of the criminal court and, sinceas state's attorney of Cook County. Crowe was a leading figure in the Republican Party with a realistic chance of winning election as Chicago's next mayor. To send Leopold and Loeb to the gallows for their murder of a child would, no doubt, find favor with the public.
Indeed, the public's interest in the trial was driven by more than lurid fascination with the grisly details of the case. Sometime within the past few years the country had experienced a shift in public morality. Women now bobbed their hair, smoked cigarettes, drank gin and wore short skirts; sexuality was everywhere and young people were eagerly taking advantage of their new freedoms.
The traditional ideals—centered on work, discipline and self-denial—had been replaced by a culture of self-indulgence. And what single event could better illustrate the dangers of such a transformation than the heinous murder of Bobby Franks?
Precocious brains, salacious books, infidel minds—all these helped to produce this murder. The families of the confessed murderers had hired Clarence Darrow as defense attorney. ByDarrow had achieved notoriety within Cook County as a clever speaker, an astute lawyer and a champion of the weak and defenseless. One year later, he would become the most famous lawyer in the country, when he successfully defended Socialist labor leader Eugene Debs against conspiracy charges that grew out of a strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company.
Crowe could attest firsthand to Darrow's skills.Leopold and Loeb
InDarrow had humiliated him in the corruption trial of Fred Lundin, a prominent Republican politician. Like Crowe, Darrow knew that he might be able to play the trial of Leopold and Loeb to his advantage. Darrow was passionately opposed to the death penalty; he saw it as a barbaric and vengeful punishment that served no purpose except to satisfy the mob. The trial would provide him with the means to persuade the American public that the death penalty had no place in the modern judicial system.
Darrow's opposition to capital punishment found its greatest source of inspiration in the new scientific disciplines of the early 20th century. Darrow saw confirmation of these views in the field of dynamic psychiatry, which emphasized infantile sexuality and unconscious impulses and denied that human actions were freely chosen and rationally arranged.