Loeb–Leopold Case

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Author: Elmer Gertz
Editors: Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik
Date: 2007
Encyclopaedia Judaica
From: Encyclopaedia Judaica(Vol. 13. 2nd ed.)
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Case overview; Brief article
Pages: 1
Content Level: (Level 5)

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LOEB–LEOPOLD CASE, U.S. murder case in 1924 which involved one of the most sensational crimes of the century. Richard Loeb (1905–1936), 18, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and Nathan Freudenthal Leopold (1904–1971), 19, a graduate of the University of Chicago, the well-educated scions of wealthy Chicago Jewish families, attempted, as they said at their trial, to perpetrate the perfect crime, when they kidnapped and killed a 14-year-old neighbor, Bobby Franks. After a thorough investigation and a highly publicized trial, in which the famous attorney Clarence Darrow represented the young men, they were sentenced to life imprisonment plus 99 years, the court recommending that they never be released. In jail the young men developed a correspondence school in which many subjects were taught to the inmates of 19 penitentiaries. In 1936 Loeb was murdered by an inmate. Leopold worked ceaselessly at his prison activities. Possessing a remarkably high IQ, he was a participant in the famous wartime malaria experiments and mastered 27 languages. His book, Life Plus 99 Years (1958), tells the story of his imprisonment. For a period of years there were unsuccessful efforts to release him. In 1957 Attorney Elmer Gertz took over the case and the parole board finally paroled Leopold in 1958 to Puerto Rico, where he worked at the Castaner General Hospital. Leopold earned a master's degree, taught at the University of Puerto Rico, and published a book on birds. The case was described by Meyer *Levin 's novel Compulsion (1956; which Leopold characterized as unwarranted invasion of his privacy).


M. McKernan, Crime and Trial of Leopold and Loeb (1925); C.S. Darrow, Plea… in Defence of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold (1924).

[Elmer Gertz]

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Gale Document Number: GALE|CX2587512686