May 21, 1924
The Leopold and Loeb case
Two precocious college boys horrify the city with their "perfect crime."
Even in an era when murder and mayhem splashed onto the front pages of Chicago's newspapers every day, the Leopold and Loeb case stood out. Chicago's newshounds filled the press gallery of the courtroom where the trial was held. Univ. of Chicago graduate students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb set out to commit the "perfect" slaying and killed a random fourteen-year-old. (Tribune photo by Barlow Wolff)
The boy had vanished into a car rented under a phony name by two University of Chicago graduate students. Ten days later, there would not be man, woman or child in Chicago who did not know the names of the murderous lads: Leopold and Loeb. Nathan "Babe" Leopold Jr., 19, and Richard "Dickie" Loeb, 18, were the pampered sons of prominent Kenwood families who set out to commit the "perfect" slaying because they thought it would be exciting.The day after he disappeared, Bobby's naked body was found in a ditch along the Illinois- Indiana border. A pair of tortoise-shell eyeglasses was found near the body. Those and the typewriter that had been used to produce a $10,000 ransom note were the killers' undoing.
The glasses were traced to Leopold, and reporters located Leopold's school notes, typed on the same Underwood portable as the ransom note. Confronted with the evidence, Leopold and Loeb confessed on May 31.
The killers' wealthy parents hired legendary attorney Clarence Darrow. The boys pleaded guilty, but Darrow successfully persuaded the judge to spare their lives.
Less than twelve years later, Loeb was murdered in prison. Leopold spent 33 years in prison until his parole in 1958. He died of natural causes in Puerto Rico in 1971. He was 66.