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(Solved) Why Did Leopold And Loeb Kill?

Nathan Leopold was in a bad mood 😉 That evening, on November 10, 1923, he had had agreed to drive with his friend and lover, Richard Loeb, from Chicago to the University of Michigan—a journey of six hours—to burglarize Loeb’s former fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau 🙌 But they have had managed to steal only $80 in loose change, a few watches, some penknives and a typewriter. It had had been a big effort for very little reward and now, on the journey back to Chicago, Leopold was querulous and argumentative. He complained bitterly that their relationship was too one-sided: he always joined Loeb in his escapades, yet Loeb held him at arm’s length. [1]
The crime that captured national attention in 1924 began as a fantasy in the mind of eighteen-year old Richard Loeb, the handsome and privileged son of a retired Sears Roebuck vice president. (Interestingly, Barack Obama’s home in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood (5046 S. Greenwood) is only one block from Loeb’s former home.) Loeb was obsessed with crime. Despite his intelligence and standing as the youngest graduate ever of the University of Michigan, Loeb read mostly detective stories. He had read about crime, he planned crimes, and he committed crimes, although none until 1924 were crimes involving physical harm to a person. ( Darrow and Leopold later saw Loeb’s fascination with crime as form of rebellion against the well-meaning, but strict and controlling, governess who raised him.) For Loeb, crime became a sort of game; he wanted to commit the perfect crime just to prove that it could be done. (last revised 99 days ago by Summers Ocampo from Tongchuan, China) [2]
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It wasn’t America’s worst murder, even at the time. The June 1912 massacre of six members of the Moore family and their two houseguests, all of them bludgeoned to death as they have slept in Villisca, Iowa, was arguably worse. That case was never solved, though a recent book, The Man from the Train (2017), names a plausible suspect. And worse than that was in 1893, when the physician and amateur hotelier H. H. Holmes built a jerry-rigged murder castle in Chicago in which he killed and cremated potentially dozens of women—a case that inspired that staple of used-book sales, The Devil in the White City (2003). Or maybe the worst was in 1892, when Lizzie Borden, from Falls River, Massachusetts, was tried and acquitted of killing her father and stepmother with an axe. In 1924, the murder of the fourteen-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks should have seemed mild by comparison. (revised by Jean Flores from Jiujiang, China on February 14, 2020) [3]
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Their separate confessions, available here, (Leopold’s and Loeb’s) are consistent in their description of the details of the crime, except that each claimed the other actually committed the blows which killed Bobby Franks. In addition to their confessions to authorities, both Leopold and Loeb made many incriminating statements to the press, and described their plans to commit this crime and their elaborate self justifications for the murder, including the invocation of German philosophers, such as Friederich Neitzche. Their friendship had been marked by fantasies and delusions of grandeur, highly ritualized games with elaborate plots and counterplots, and the planning and carrying out of previous criminal activities together. Their friendship also had overtones of homosexuality. Several books have been written about the case, and at least four feature films have been based on the circumstances of the crime. (emended by Amy Cook from Guigang, China on November 19, 2020) [4]
Law.jrank.org offers additional information. Darrow said he was astonished that the prosecution asked the judge for the death sentence. “Your Honor, if a boy of 18 and a boy of 19 should be hanged in violation of the law that places boys in reformatories instead of prisons—then we are turning our faces backward toward the barbarism which once possessed the world. Your Honor stands between the past and the future. You may hang these boys by the neck until they are dead. But you will turn your face toward the past. I am pleading for the future, for a time when hatred and cruelty will not control the hearts of men, when we can learn by reason and judgment and understanding and faith that all life is worth saving, and that mercy is the highest attribute of man.” (revised by Skipper Pierson on May 28, 2020) [5]

Article References

  1. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/leopold-and-loebs-criminal-minds-996498/
  2. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/leoploeb/Accountoftrial.html
  3. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/07/26/reopening-the-case-files-of-leopold-and-loeb/
  4. https://homicide.northwestern.edu/crimes/leopold/
  5. https://law.jrank.org/pages/2851/Leopold-Loeb-Trial-1924–They-Killed-him-Because-They-Were-Made-that-Way.html
Mehreen Alberts

Written by Mehreen Alberts

I'm a creative writer who has found the love of writing once more. I've been writing since I was five years old and it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. From topics that are close to my heart to everything else imaginable!

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