Little Bits of History

Bobby Franks

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 21, 2011

Bobby Franks

May 21, 1924: Bobby Franks dies at the hands of two teenaged University of Chicago students who wish to commit the “perfect crime.” Richard Loeb, 18 years old, and Nathan Leopold, aged 19, were both bright, energetic, and wealthy young men. They had both skipped grades and entered college early. Loeb had already finished his undergrad studies and was said to have an IQ of 160. Leopold was a child prodigy who had studied 15 languages speaking 5 fluently and gave lectures on ornithology. His IQ was said to be 200.

Both boys came from over-indulgent families. Loeb’s weekly allowance was $250 while Leopold’s was $125 in an age when the average worker made only $1,228 in a year. Leopold was a fan of Nietzsche and believed he was the famed Superman of that philosophy. Leopold and Loeb had been friends since they were 14 and 13 and they were inseparable. Loeb was interested in breaking laws while Leopold was interested in sex. They traded favors with each other to meet these needs.

Soon Leopold was to leave for a trip to Europe and then go on to Harvard. The pair was splitting up. For one last thrill, they meticulously planned the perfect crime. They plotted for weeks, covering every contingency. They “randomly” chose their victim, but they wanted a male who was Jewish [they were both Jews] and they needed the family of the victim to be wealthy in order to collect the ransom for the planned kidnapping and murder.

They carried out their plan making mistakes almost from the outset. They got Bobby in the car and then hit him in the head and stuffed a rag in his mouth. He died immediately rather than as the young men planned. Their “perfect” hiding place for the body was discovered within hours. Instead of collecting a ransom, headlines from a special edition newspaper cried that the body of Bobby had been found. Leopold dropped his specially made glasses at the scene. Both murderers confessed within weeks. They were defended by Clarence Darrow who managed to get life imprisonment for murder and 99 years for kidnapping rather than the death sentence. Loeb was attacked by another inmate and died of his wounds in 1936. Leopold was released from prison after 33 years in 1958 and died at the age of 66 from a heart attack.

“From Jesse James to Loeb and Leopold, from the perpetrators of the St Valentine’s Day’s massacre to the Lindbergh kidnapper and beyond, our celebrated delinquents have become a part of the national heritage.” – F. W. Dupree

“What a rotten writer of detective stories life is!” – Nathan Leopold

“No other offense has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.” – Clarence Darrow

“As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.” – Clarence Darrow

Also on this day:
And leave the driving to us! – In 1914 Carl Wickman begins busing.
Amelia – In 1932, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

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