So, by now, I have realised it is way easier to write about scary movies than it is to write about true crime.
I think there are a few reasons for this.
- I have a guilt complex about ‘promoting’ people who kill people – particularly if their end-goal was to gain notoriety.
- Even though I am pretty morally bankrupt, I also am aware that there are people affected today from even ‘historical’ crimes. I know I have to be respectful and not weirdly exhibitionistic, but hey, anytime you open your mouth you exponentially increase the chances of saying something awful.
- Being a true crime obsessive, do I think I can match the quality of writing put out there by experienced, qualified professionals? Hell, no! But I’m going to try anyway.
So, today, why don’t we begin the journey into the magnetic world of true crime by talking about my favourite case of rich ubermensch-y homoerotic folie a deux…
Did you guess it?
It’s Leopold and Loeb!
Or Loeb and Leopold!
I literally had these two confused for a long long time but that is Richard Elbert Loeb on the left and Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. (don’t even) on the right.
What did these two rascally rabbits do? They tried to commit the perfect murder!
Did they succeed? Absolutely not!
I don’t really want to waste to much time on the crime, because it’s actually a bit embarrassing. Like, if the whole thing had been filmed, the Benny Hill Theme would have been the soundtrack.
Basically, at the age 19 (Leopold) and 18 (Loeb) these two University of Chicago students had been reading way to much Nietzsche and decided they were ubermencschen super-intelligent superior individuals clearly distinct from the low-level plebs. Rather than, I don’t know, snorting coke off some hookers and dangling money in front of homeless people, this culminated in them deciding to kill someone – because a. they would obviously outsmart the police and get away with it and b. as ubermenschen, basic moral codes clearly didn’t apply to them.
Now, let’s go through the (almost) comedy of errors and see where they went wrong!
First, they decided that on top of murdering someone, they would stage a kidnapping. This really grinds my gears because they had no use for the money! I know that sounds heartless, but to toy with a family whose son is dead just for kicks is super wrecked.
Secondly, the person they decided to kidnap/kill, 14 year-old Bobby Franks, was LOEB’S SECOND-COUSIN who lived across the street from him.Clearly, this was a wealthy neighbourhood. Now, I appreciate their daring if they thought they could actually get away with killing within their own class. But the same rules still exist today:
Kill a poor, non-white, female = RING A DING DING! Kill a wealthy, white, boy = BA BOW!
Think I am being facetious, see the Highway of Tears.
Thirdly, they just generally effed it up. They used an easy-to-trace stolen typewriter (from a raid on a Fraternity House, yes, that is the type of lives they led). They made an overzealous attempt to make an alibi that was foiled by their own chauffeur (yes, again). But worst (or best) of all, Leopold accidentally dropped his glasses next to the dumped body. No biggie right? Wrong. While nothing about the lenses or frames stood out, the hinges where so unique that it could be traced to a single store. The store divulged that only THREE people in the entire Chicago area owned glasses with said hinge. One being Nathan Leopold.
So, just after a week of committing the crime, both Loeb and Leopold were brought in. They quickly confessed, trying to blame the whole act on the other.
So, in a nutshell, so went the crime of Leopold and Loeb.
Our next post will cover their trial, one of the monumental trials of the 20th Century, fought by one of the greatest legal minds the world will ever know, as well as the media coverage and lasting impact of this bizarre-o mission of a couple of teens.
Keep on rocking in the free world,