Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. November 19, — August 30, and Richard A. Loeb June 11, — January 28, , more commonly known as Leopold and Loeb , were two wealthy teenage students who murdered year-old Bobby Franks in Their crime was notable in being largely motivated by an apparent need to prove the duo's belief that their high intellects made them capable of committing a "perfect crime," and also for its role in the history of American thought on capital punishment.
Leopold and Loeb
Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library
First, the joy in planning it. Secondly, the thrill in committing it. Third, the anticipation, pleasurable anticipation in waiting for the money. Fourth, the publicity. Fifth, the discussion, that is, his own discussion among the various people who were interested, with the knowledge that he possessed the key to the secret and none of the rest of them did. And last and least, the money that was involved.
Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930
Not the flowers and teddy bears people come purposely to leave at the shrines of tragedy when it is new and freshly shocking, but the kinds of little spontaneous offerings you can imagine prehistoric people leaving at sanctuaries where they thought spirits dwelt. There are pebbles, pennies, knotted scraps of fabric, things these visitors might have had in their pockets or found nearby when the tribute urge came over them—and one little Matchbox car, reminding us that Bobby, who would be if he were still alive today, is forever frozen in a childhood he did not outgrow. The doors are chained and padlocked, but unlike those of many of the surrounding tombs, their windows are transparent, making it possible to peer straight in through the grillwork. It makes me feel ghoulish and voyeuristic to do this, but I do it anyway.
Nathan Leopold was in a bad mood. That evening, on November 10, , he had agreed to drive with his friend and lover, Richard Loeb, from Chicago to the University of Michigan—a journey of six hours—to burglarize Loeb's former fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau. It had been a big effort for very little reward and now, on the journey back to Chicago, Leopold was querulous and argumentative. He complained bitterly that their relationship was too one-sided: he always joined Loeb in his escapades, yet Loeb held him at arm's length. Eventually Loeb managed to quiet Leopold's complaints with reassurances of his affection and loyalty.