Obsessed with perpetrating “the perfect crime,” in 1924 they killed a 14-year old son and contacted his family for ransom. Law enforcement discovered the body, and Leopold and Loeb—defended by Clarence Darrow—were convicted of homicide, but prevented the death penalty. Leopold died in Puerto Rico in 1971.
Leopold was the son of a rich family of immigrant German Jews who’d made a cargo and transportation-associated bundle since their arrival in America. Apparently a child prodigy having an IQ of 210, Leopold spoke his first words at 4 months old and amazed a series of nannies and governesses along with his intellectual precocity. Leopold’s intelligence set him apart from his contemporaries, as well as the son had trouble making friends when he began school. This is a characteristic that continued throughout his schooling, and was made harder by his own first-class approach, in regard to both his family’s riches and his own cleverness.
Leopold and Loeb were an outstanding match emotionally: the brilliant but socially inept Leopold was enthralled by the attractive and vivacious Loeb; and Loeb located an outstanding alter ego because of his fantasy world where he was supreme. From the summer of 1921 they were inseparable, and it’s also probable which they started a sexual relationship. Leopold graduated with honours in March 1923; Loeb just graduated in the University of Michigan in June 1923. Both men returned to Chicago, where they were inseparable. Both pursued postgraduate studies in the University of Chicago while residing at home.
On May 21, 1924, Loeb and Leopold set their strategy into action, amassing a rental car, hiding its number plates and then driving with their old alma mater, the Harvard School, in search of a suitable casualty. They settled on 14-year old Bobby Franks, a neighbor of the Loebs. Enticed to the vehicle, Franks was hit over the head using a chisel by Loeb and gagged before being concealed under some blankets on the back seat of the vehicle.
Unbeknownst to Leopold and Loeb, Jacob Franks had contacted the authorities, and Bobby Franks’ body was located and identified prior to the ransom was delivered. Leopold and Loeb were interrogated by authorities and eventually Loeb confessed the murder, asserting that Leopold had been the driving force supporting the program and that he’d struck the deadly blow on Franks. Leopold promised the reverse was true. The families hired Clarence Darrow, the nation’s leading criminal defense lawyer, to represent the pair at trial. On September 24, 1924 Leopold and Loeb each got a life sentence for the murder, as opposed to the death penalty, and an additional 99 years each for the kidnapping.
While serving his term in Joliet Penitentiary onJanuary 28, 1936, Loeb was viciously assaulted and killed by his cellmate,James Day, who promised Loeb had made sexual advances to him. Leopold was finally given parole in March 1958. He fled to Puerto Rico, where he taught math in the University of Puerto Rico, as well as released an ornithological publication. On August 30, 1971, Leopold died of a diabetes-related heart attack.