The circumstances of the crime involved the murder of a young boy, Bobby Franks, by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, young men from wealthy Jewish families who said they killed their fourteen year old victim, whom was a distant cousin of Loeb, because they wanted to commit the perfect, motiveless crime . The case was a national and international sensation.
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.
After a legendary trial and a masterful plea for mercy speech given by famous defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, both defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder, and an additional 99 years for the kidnapping.
On January 28, 1936, Loeb was later attacked by a fellow inmate, James Day, with a straight razor in a shower room. He was taken directly to the prison hospital where doctors tried to save his life. Leopold went to the hospital to find his friend barely conscious and slashed all over. Leopold offered to have his blood tested for a transfusion but was denied by the doctors, who knew there was no hope. Loeb’s last words to Leopold were “I think I’m going to make it.” Leopold then washed his friend’s body as an act of affection.
In early 1958 Leopold was released on parole after 33 years in prison. He moved to Puerto Rico, married a widowed florist, worked as a laboratory and x-ray assistant at The Brethren Service Commission, and taught mathematics at the University of Puerto Rico. He died of a diabetes-related heart attack on August 29, 1971, at the age of 66.