Leopold & Loeb kill Bobby Franks - Chicago, IL
Posted by: adgorn
N 41° 48.540 W 087° 36.090
16T E 450036 N 4628744
Quick Description: The "Crime of the Century" began here on May 21, 1924 when friends Nathan Leopold (19) and Richard Loeb (18) abducted little Bobby Franks upon leaving the Harvard School for Boys, and killed him nearby.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 1/17/2010 2:59:13 PM
Waymark Code: WM82VC
Fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks left the Harvard School for Boys at 4731 Ellis Avenue in the exclusive Kenwood section, where he attended school, and began walking to his home two blocks away. His killer Nathan Leopold Jr. previously attended Harvard, where classmates teased him about his size, his interest in bugs and his intelligence.
Leopold and Loeb, two highly intelligent and wealthy students attending the nearby University of Chicago and seeking to commit the perfect crime, were driving north on Ellis when they spotted fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks walking south on Ellis. Leopold was in the back seat and Loeb was driving. Loeb later described what happened. "About five o'clock we saw Bobby Franks coming south on the west side of Ellis. As we passed him he was just coming across us past 48th. We turned down 48th and turned the car around. About the time we turned around, he was almost at 49th. It was here that we picked him up. I drove south on Ellis parallel to where Bobby was, stopped the car, and while remaining in my seat, opened the front door and asked him if I could give him a ride home. He said no, he would just as soon walk, but I told him that I would like to talk to him about a tennis racket, so he got in the car."
"After Bobby got in the car, I stepped on the gas and drove south on Ellis to 50th. As soon as I turned the corner, Nathan placed one hand over Bobby's mouth and with his right hand beat him on the head several times with a chisel. Bobby began to bleed and was not entirely conscious. He was moaning. Nathan grabbed Bobby and pulled him over the back of the front seat and threw him on a rug on the floor. He then took a gag and stuffed it down his throat. Then we drove east on 50th, passed through the viaduct under the Illinois Central tracks and entered Jackson Park. Then we drove south toward Indiana on Highway 12."
A school mate of Bobby who was walking nearby, looked away for a second, and when he looked up, Bobby Franks had disappeared. He saw a car speeding away south on Ellis, but he had not seen Bobby get in, nor had he seen anyone get out. Four hours later, at 9 p.m. a man called the Franks home and told Mrs. Franks that Bobby had been kidnapped.
The next morning, a man walking through the prairie and marsh near Wolf Lake near the Illinois/Indiana border, noticed something down in a culvert while crossing the railroad tracks. Looking closer, he saw two bare feet sticking out from the culvert pipe. Standing in knee-deep water, he pulled on the legs and pulled the limp body from the pipe. He saw that it was a young boy and that he was dead. He had no clothes on.
Back at the Franks house at that time, a special delivery letter arrived demanding $10,000 for the safe return of Bobby (who was already dead), and it was signed "George Johnson."
The pair were tied to the crime from eyeglasses that Leopold had dropped near the boy's body. Both pled guilty to the murder of Bobby Franks, and narrowly escaped the death penalty with the help of famous lawyer Clarence Darrow in a media spectacle trail.
Many teachers at the school were interrogated trying to uncover possible links to the crime. Today the Harvard School building is a residential condominium.
For detailed information, see the Northwestern University Library exhibit site:
and another good summary at The Chicago Crime Scenes Project: