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Leopold and Loeb murder case 1924 One of the most despicable murder cases in the twentieth century was that of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, residents of suburban Chicago, who murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924. Their motive: They wanted to kill for the thrill of it and commit the perfect crime. Both Leopold, age 20, and Loeb, age 19, were exceptionally brilliant students who considered themselves intellectual supermen. On May 21, 1924 they lured Bobby Franks (a distant relative of Loeb) into a rented car. Franks was bludgeoned with a chisel and suffocated with a sock. His body was dumped into a culvert in Gary, Indiana and doused with acid to make identification difficult. The culprits mailed a typed ransom note to Franks' parents indicating that Bobby had been kidnapped. However, Franks' body was found before any ransom could be paid. Also found near the body were a pair of eye glasses that fell from Loeb's pocket during the crime. The glasses were almost unique--only three pairs had been made by a certain optician--and they led the police to Loeb. The two young men, who were reputedly homosexual lovers, were questioned and their alibis discredited. Each eventually confessed his involvement in the crime, but insisted the other was responsible for the actual murder. They were brought to trial for murder and kidnapping. Their lawyer, the famous Clarence Darrow, entered pleas of guilty in order to avoid a jury deciding the twosome's fate--which likely would have been a death sentence. Instead Darrow argued with a judge to spare his guilty clients from the death penalty. Darrow gave a rousing 12-hour oration that spared his clients' lives. Instead Leopold and Loeb were each given life sentences plus 99 years. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936. Leopold was pardoned in 1958 and died of a heart attack in 1971. Bobby Franks, often forgotten by history, remains 14 years old forever.
Tags: Leopold  Loeb  Franks 
Added: 16th November 2007
Views: 3311
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Naomi on 2007-11-17 
What a terrible crime against such a young boy, and also a very interesting trial. A psychologist who studied this case stated that alone, neither Leopold or Loeb would have committed this crime, but because of their distinct personalities, when you put them together, they became deadly.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2007-11-17 
Very smart move by Darrow to plead his clients guilty. It was assumed he'd plead them not guilty by reason of mental defect. This would have necessitated a jury trial and a jury's recommendation for sentencing. Leopold and Loeb would have been executed--no doubt about it.
Posted by: Naomi on 2007-11-17 
I would really like to hear that argument Darrow gave to the judge, for him to NOT give them the death sentence.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2007-11-17 
From what I've read, Darrow argued that Leopold and Loeb were greatly influenced by the philosophies of Nietschke and his concept of intellectual supermen. Thus, Darrow proffered the old if-it-weren't-for-bad-influences argument. (Hmm, I don't know of anyone else who was inspired by Nietschke's writings to randomly kill a teenage boy.) The judge bought it, though.
Posted by: Naomi on 2007-11-17 
Thanks for that info, it's very interesting.
Posted by: Chowdnation on 2011-01-22 
Only 33 yrs in prison? That injustice makes a good argument for the death penalty. How does someone murder a 14 yr. old boy for kicks, and spend his final 13 years a free man?
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2011-01-23 
No argument from me, Chowdnation.
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