Leopold and Loeb
The murder of Bobbie Franks
|They are Nathan Leopold, Jr., son of the millionaire president of the Fibre Can company, and Richard Loeb, whose father is a vice-president of Sears, Roebuck & Co.|
On May 21, 1924, Nathan Leopold met his friend Richard Loeb after their post graduate classes at the University of Chicago. Nathan was studying law. Richard was studying history. The time was eleven o clock.
The two drove in Nathan's Red Willis Knight, to a Rent a Car on South Michigan St. where they rented a Gray Willis Knight. They rented the car under the name Morton D Ballard using an elaborate false identity (see above link) they had earlier created. They then drove to a local restaurant where they put side curtains up on the rented car and had lunch with a friend, Dick Rubel.
|After lunch they returned to Leopold's home. They dropped off Nathan's car, after transfering their "gear" From Nathan's red car to the rented car. These included a pair of rubber boots, some ether, hydrochloric acid, rope, some gags, and a chisel.|
|The ether, Hydrochloric acid, Rope and guns|
|At this time, Nathan asked the Leopold family chauffeur, Sven Englund, if he could do something about the squeeking brakes. Nathan commented he'd rather hit someone than have squeaking brakes.|
|They ended up in Jackson park, where one of the boys- seemingly Leopold after Loeb showed him how, taped the metal end of the chisal- to use as a grip. Their weapon would be the wooden handle of the chisel, their blunt object. Loeb referred to this weapon as his "Toy." The boys were also armed. Leopold had a 38 and Loeb a 45.|
They remained in the park for 45 minutes to an hour, until the local schools let out. They had a victim in mind; Johnny Levinson. Johnny was a neighborhood boy who fit the 'profile' Loeb and Leopold had created. The victim must have wealthy parents, he must be small so they could easily overtake him, and he must be someone they knew, so he would come willingly into the car and not make a scene. They caught sight of Levinson and began trailing him. However, they later lost him. Leopold returned to his house to retreive his binoculars, which Loeb referred to as Leopold's "bird glasses".
The afternoon was wearing on and Levinson had not reappeared. However, at approx 5PM, a boy broke away from a baseball game and began walking home. His name was Bobby Franks. Another boy followed Bobby at a distance. His name was Irving Hatrtman. Loeb and Leopold spotted Bobby, turned the car around, let Franks gain a little on them, then pulled over.
Richard Loeb knew Bobby. Leopold did not. Bobby Franks was a friend of Richard's young brother, Tommy. Bobby often played tennis on the Loeb's court, and had even played with Richard on occasion.The Franks lived diagonally across from the Loebs.
Richard Loeb called to Bobby, "Bobby, you want a ride home?" Bobby said he'd just as soon walk. His house was not far. "Wait. I want to ask you about that tennis racket you were using last week. I was thinking of getting one for Tommy." Bobby got in the car, beside the driver, in the front seat.
As he got in, Richard introduced Bobby to Nathan. "You know Babe? This is Bobby Franks. Do you mind if we drive around the corner?"
Bobby said he didn't mind.
Meanwhile, young Irving Hartman paused in his walk to examine some tulips. When he looked up, Bobby was gone.
The car rounded the corner and Bobby was hit over the head with the chisel. The plan had been to knock him unconscious. The boy would be hit with the blunt end of the chisel, knocked out, and taken to the predetermined dumping site, at which point they would complete the plan by strangling the boy. The plan dictated each hold an end of the rope and they both pull, to share equally in the guilt. However, Bobby did not succumb instantly. He screamed, and was thus hit again and again, then gagged and dragged into the back seat.
Leopold began to lose his compusure, mumbling, "This is terrible. This is terrible!" Richard Loeb calmed him down by talking to him, joking and laughing. Bobby was wrapped in a rug and shoved onto the back floor. Already things were going wrong. There was a great deal of blood. They hadn't intended on that.
They began to drive around, killing time until nightfall. They headed out to Indiana towards a location they had already decided upon. At a deserted spot they stopped the car, removed Bobby's pants and shoes, belt and class pin. They left the shoes on one side of the road, the belt and pin on the other.
|In their alibi, Leopold and Loeb claimed they had dinner at the Coconut Grove. In reality, this (left) is where they had their dinner May 21st. They stopped at a lunch stand called the Dew Drop Inn and Leopold ordered them Hotdogs (red hots) and Rootbeers. They sat eating.|
Disposing of the body
|Once it was dark enough, they proceeded to the place
they intended to dispose of the body- a culvert at Wolf Lake, where Leopold had often gone
birding. The culvert was a drainpipe under the railroad tracks that connected two
Leopold had never noticed it when birding and thought nobody else would notice it either. They completed removing the body's clothing, dragged it in the robe to the culvert, then poured the acid on the face, the genitals and an identifying scar. . They poured acid on the genitals because Richard was under the impression that a person could be identified by his genitals, believing his brother Tommy had a preculiarly shaped penis.
. The smell of the acid and the water caused some discomfort, and Leopold did not push the body into the pipe far enough, and one of the boy's feet protruded.
With the body hidden, they then stopped at a drugstore where Nathan phoned a friend (Susan Lurrie) cancelling a date. This is interesting. Leopold had a date with Susan for May 21st, and thus, one could argue, Lurrie gets dragged into Leopold and Loeb's alibi just as does Dick Rubel. Leopold and Loeb's favorite topics of discussion was "What if our friends knew what we really were". Perhaps there was an added thrill in circummstantially involving these people.
Leopold then phoned his father telling him he would be a bit late getting home to drive home his aunt and uncle,who were visiting.
They then called the Franks from another phone at another drugstore. Leopold told Mrs Franks he was George Johnson,they had kidnapped her son, he was safe, and further instructions would follow tomorrow.
They then drove back to Leopold's home. They parked the bloodied rented car on the street and Nathan retrieved his own car from the garage. He drove his aunt and uncle home while Richard stayed, talking to Nathan's father. Ten minutes later, Nathan returned. They had a few drinks with Mr. Leopold until he went to bed- at 11:30 PM. Nathan and Richard remained for a while, drank some more, and played two games of Casino ("for fun"). at 12:30 or 1 they drove to the Loeb house and burnt the boy's clothing in the furnace.
The chisel was disposed of, by being tossed out the window of the car, an action that was witnessed by a night watchman, who retrieved the weapon, covered with blood, from the gutter to give to the police.
May 22, 1924. The Wheels Within the Wheels.
The plan continued after classes on Thursday. It was Ransom day.
An elaborate plan had been hatched for the delivery of the ransom. It was the most interesting and most complex part of the entire crime, and it was the part Richard Loeb liked best.
"Who says there's no way to get delivery of the ransom without letting anybody get a look at you? Or giving them a chance to plant a gang of dicks to watch you pick it up? This is neat, Nate- hey, I'm a poet! I knew if we just put our heads together and gave ourselves time enough we could come up with a foolproof scheme. Let's see them unravel this one." (Life Plus Ninety Nine Years)
The ransom collection plan was as follows. Place a note in the trash can on a certain street corner. Place a note in the telegraph blank box aboard a certain train. . He is to count quicly to five, then throw the box with the ransom as far as he can. The boys would be sitting in an alley in the rented car, and watch the box be thrown from the train, then watch the train speed away. Should Franks have notified the police, should the police have even boarded the train with Franks, they would all be carried away, and not know where the kidnapers were. Should the train stop or slow, well, then they only had not to move to pick up the ransom. It seemed a foolproof plan. They couldn't get caught.
Unfortunately, things continued to unravel. The note wouldn't stick to the waste basket. So they eliminated that part of the relay. Mr Franks had indeed alerted the police, and he forgot the address to where he was to take the cab. Leopold did not tell the cab company where he (he was posing as Mr Franks when he ordered the cab) wanted to go, so the cabbie arrived at the Franks, and nobody knew where to go. And then, an unidentified body had been discovered in a swamp in Indiana . The jig, so to speak, was up.
The boys phoned the drugstore several times. Mr Franks never arrived. They grabbed a paper from the newsstand and read about the discovery of the body. Loeb wanted to quit, to return the car and lay low, sure that the game was over.
Loeb argued against it. It was too risky. But Leopold insisted. They phoned the drugstore again, and again, there was no Mr Franks in the store. And then, then the game was truly over.
. At the drugstore, they ran into one of the instructors from the Harvard school, Mott Kirt Mitchell, who would become a suspect. They discussed the tragedy. Leopold then drove Loeb home.
Loeb, Leopold Tell How They Lured Boy Into Car, Slew Him
Nathan F. Leopold, Jr. (1904 - 1971)
"An intellectual machine going without balance" is how Clarence Darrow described Nathan Leopold in his trial summation.
Bobby Franks was age 14 when he was picked up and murdered while on his way home from the Harvard School in Chicago's fashionable Hyde Park district. Franks was a brilliant student at the school. As a member of the Harvard debate team, he had argued against capital punishment. Franks' conduct, however, worried his teachers. On his scholastic record are the notations "too self-satisfied" and "still hampered by unpleasant characteristics."
Franks was the son of Jacob Franks. Jacob made his fortune financing Chicago real estate. He earned the title "Honest Jake" Franks because of his reputation for square dealing.
Bobby Franks knew Richard Loeb, but not Leopold. Franks and Loeb had often played tennis together on the Loeb family courts. Franks was also a distant cousin of Loeb.
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