August 3, 2013

Bobby Never Came Home

The perfect murder. A contradiction in terms perhaps? Two young men by the names of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb thought they could premeditate and conduct the perfect murder, meaning they could kill someone and never get caught. The result when evil has too much time on its hands.
(Left) Leopold and Loeb (Right)

The year was 1924, and the scene took place in Chicago. The victim, was a 14 year old boy by the name of Robert "Bobby" Franks. Bobby as his friends and family called him was born on  September 19, 1909 to millionaires Jacob and Flora Franks. Bobby had a younger sister named Josephine,  and an older brother Jacob "Jack" Jr.

 Loeb and Leopold had spent months planning the "perfect murder". They put their morbid plan into action on May 21, 1924. Bobby was a cousin to Leob. Bobby was walking home from a baseball game that took place at the Harvard School For Boys. Bobby hitched a ride with Loeb and Leopold that day. He never made it home.
Bobby Franks

Bobby was struck with a chisel, his mouth stuffed with a sock. He was beaten until his death. Loeb and Leopold drove to Hammond, Indiana and stopped at a remote area and removed Bobby's clothes. They threw the clothes on the side of the road as they drove to a hot dog stand to have dinner. When they finished eating they poured hydrochloric acid over Bobby's poor lifeless body to make identification difficult and shoved his body into a culvert near the Pennsylvania Railroad.

They drove back to Chicago, mailed a ransom note to Bobby's parents, and cleaned the car, trying to remove all the blood stains. They also burned their clothes which had Bobby's blood on them. Leopold called Mrs. Franks.

Mrs. Franks was at home located at 5052 S. Ellis in Chicago. She was naturally worried because Bobby had not come yet. The phone rang, when she answered this is what she heard:
“This is Mr. Johnson. Of course you know by this time that your boy has been kidnapped. We have him and you need not worry; he is safe. But don’t try to trace this call or to find me. We must have money. We will let you know tomorrow what we want. We are kidnappers and we mean business. If you refuse us what we want or try to report us to the police we will kill the boy. Good-by.”
The Franks thinking their son was still alive, were now sick with worry about getting him back from the kidnappers.
Bobby and his Father, Jacob
A man named Tony Minke was walking near the Pennsylvania Railroad. He saw a small body in the culvert. The police were called, and an investigation started. The body was identified as Bobby Franks, and Bobby's parents were told the terrible news.

The perfect murder was not so perfect as Leob and Leopold quickly found out. A detective at the scene found a pair of glasses. The detective asked the Franks if Bobby wore glasses, they replied no. He had perfect vision. The glasses were discovered to have a rare hinged mechanism. The glasses were traced to Almer Coe & Company. Only three had been sold in the Chicago area. One of those customers was Nathan Leopold, neighbor of Bobby.

After being interrogated by the police, Leopold and Loeb's alibis fell apart. Leopold claimed he had lost his glasses bird watching and Loeb told the police that Leopold was with him the night of the murder. After one ratted out the other, both confessed to the murder, and were put on trail.

Dubbed "The Trial of The Century", the boys got the infamous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, who was against the death penalty. Darrow wanted his clients to plead guilty. He wanted to avoid a trial which he felt would come to the death penalty. Darrow spoke this now famous speech for the boy's defense: "This terrible crime was inherent in his organism, and it came from some ancestor... Is any blame attached because somebody took Nietzsche's philosophy seriously and fashioned his life upon it?... It is hardly fair to hang a 19-year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the university."
Loeb, Leopold, and their lawyer, Clarance Darrow

Darrow made his point and the Judge gave Leopold and Loeb life plus 99 years each. They would avoid the death penality.

Loeb eventually died in prison in 1936. He was attacked by a fellow inmate, James Day in the shower with a striaght razor. Day claimed that Loeb tried to sexually assult him but there was no evidence to support the claim.

Leopold,was released on parole in 1958 for good behavior. He later formed the Leopold foundation to help disturbed, retarded, and delinquent youth. The foundation was voided by Illinois claiming it violated the terms of his parole.

Leopold then moved to Puerto Rico and married. He got a job at Catarner General Hospital as an X-Ray assistant. He published a book in prison, Life Plus 99 Years, and another in 1963 The Checklist of Birds of Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands.

He died in 1977 from complications to diabetes and donated his cornea's to science.

Shortly after the verdict, Jacob Franks moved his family out of the family home at 5052 S. Ellis Ave. Besides a desire to leave the place where they were constantly reminded of their lost son, ghoulish tourists took photographs and knocked on the door at all times.

Bobby's coffin being carried by his classmates
The Frank's buried their boy in Chicago's Rose Hill Cemetery. Bobby's classmates placed his small white coffin into the family mausoleum. Written upon the crypt was:

Life is because God is, infinite, indestructible, and eternal. 
Bobby E. Franks 
Sept 19, 1909- May 22, 1924

Jacob Franks then moved his family out of their house on Ellis Ave and into a suite at the Drake Hotel on Michigan Ave. Jacob Franks died in 1928, and Flora in 1937.

For years there were rumors that you could see a boy with dark hair and a baseball cap playing with a baseball around Bobby's crypt. People said it was Bobby who wasn't at rest because his killers still lived.

Thanks To:
Here you can get a lot of interesting info on the Frank's Home

See pictures of Bobby's Mausoleum

By: John Theodore

Info on the Case

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