On this date in 1924, two spoiled sociopaths in Chicago, IL committed what they thought would be the perfect crime; all to prove their status as Nietzschean supermen. Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, kidnapped and murdered 14 year old Bobby Franks. They might have gotten away with it, had their perfect crime been just a little more… perfect. But perfection is hard to achieve, especially when you do things like:
-Hide the body where it will be quickly found
-Drop your (very unique) glasses at the body dump location
-Build your alibi around going for a drive in a car that could be shown to have been in the shop at the time
It didn’t take long for the alibi to break down and for both men to confess. So much for supermen, Nietzschean or otherwise.
Famed trial attorney Clarence Darrow was brought in to defend the indefensible. He couldn’t get his clients acquitted, but he did manage to head off a death sentence. Both men were sentenced to life in prison.
Loeb died in prison in 1936, the victim of a razor attack by another inmate. Leopold was paroled in 1958. He moved to Puerto Rico, where worked in a hospital. He died in 1971, at the age of 66.
Crime Museum – Leopold & Loeb
University of Minnesota Law Library: Clarence Darrow Collection – Leopold and Loeb Trial