Leopold and Loeb’s Sanity

Nathan Leopold Jr. was an intelligent young man who was accepted to the University of Chicago at age 15 and an accomplished ornithologist. His specialty was the Kirtland’s Warbler and the essay he wrote on it was often cited when the Warbler became an endangered species.1Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf. Leopold is also noted to be quite arrogant when it comes to his intelligence. Leopold was also an avid reader of Nietzsche’s philosophy. The idea of a ‘Superman’ was very intriguing to Leopold, perhaps as a way to curb his own loneliness.2Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf. Richard Loeb was charismatic, intelligent and well liked by the people around him despite not often conversing with boys his own age.3Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf.

These two young men became fast friends. Their friendship soon turned criminal when the two began to do petty crimes such as: arson, breaking into people’s cars, and theft.4Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf. When petty crimes became too boring, Loeb suggested the two plan the ‘ultimate crime’. Michael Hannon writes that the two young men ‘spent two or three days a week drinking and discussing the plan’.5Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf. The two created false identities so that they could quickly and quietly rent cars without any trouble, practiced how the parents of their victim would give them the ransom money by throwing it from a train at the right moment.6Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf. How could, if Leopold and Loeb were insane, they have planned their kidnapping and ransom plan to the degree they did?

The timeline below shows the day of their murder of Bobby Franks and it is clear that they planned everything from the weapons used, a snow pick, to where they would dispose of the body, Wolf Lake.7Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf.

A very interesting thing that researchers have are the psychiatric evaluations of both Leopold and Loeb by experts from Boston and Chicago. When the psychiatrists, or alienists as they were called in the 20s, asked Richard Loeb about the kidnapping, they were apparently astounded at the frankness in which he talked about it. They wrote that ‘the planning caused [Loeb] intense excitement…’ 8“LEOPOLD AND LOEB IN THE ARCHIVES.” Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library. Accessed November 08, 2017. http://exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/leoloeb/index.html. They even quote Loeb saying that he ‘got an intense thrill out of the plans. The cleverness of the plans appealed me [Loeb].’ 9“LEOPOLD AND LOEB IN THE ARCHIVES.” Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library. Accessed November 08, 2017. http://exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/leoloeb/index.html. Loepold’s answers were equally as interesting as he felt no remorse for killing Bobby Franks. The only thing he regretted was that he was caught and the fact that he needed the pair of glasses that got him and Loeb caught. 10“LEOPOLD AND LOEB IN THE ARCHIVES.” Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library. Accessed November 08, 2017. http://exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/leoloeb/index.html The emotions, or lack of them, that Leopold and Loeb exhibit during these assessments show that these two young men didn’t care about their victim, only the notoriety of their unsolvable crime.

The horn-rimmed glasses that sealed Leopold and Loeb’s fate.

References   [ + ]

1, 3. Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf.
2, 4, 5, 6, 7. Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf.
8, 9. “LEOPOLD AND LOEB IN THE ARCHIVES.” Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library. Accessed November 08, 2017. http://exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/leoloeb/index.html.
10. “LEOPOLD AND LOEB IN THE ARCHIVES.” Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library. Accessed November 08, 2017. http://exhibits.library.northwestern.edu/archives/exhibits/leoloeb/index.html