Are Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold Alive or Dead in the Bobby Franks Murder?

The documentary A Crime to Remember: Hearts of Darkness, available on Investigation Discovery, also chronicles the horrifying murder of Bobby Franks, then just 14 years old, in Chicago, Illinois in May 1924, and the extraordinary trial that followed. The case was named one of the “Trials of the Century” due to the killers’ stated motivation to get bored and seek pleasure by committing the ideal crime. The process was described as one of the “processes of the century”. You’ve come to the right place if you want to know more information about the incident, including the names of those responsible for the crime. Let’s dive in!


How did Bobby Franks die?

Bobby Franks, also known as Robert Emanuel Franks, was the son of Jacob Franks, a wealthy Chicago watchmaker, and Flora Griesheimer. Bobby was born in Chicago, which is located in Cook County, Illinois. The couple had two other children, Josephine and Jack, before having Bobby. Bobby was the couple’s youngest son. The only 14-year-old student at the renowned and private Harvard School was very enthusiastic about various sports and was enrolled there. After graduating from high school, he intended to continue his education at a prestigious institution, being both intelligent and mature beyond his years.

On May 21, 1924, a writer working for the Chicago Daily News overheard Illinois Senator Samuel Ettelson and his friend Jacob telling the police that Jacob’s son Bobby had not returned home from school that day . Bobby was Jacob’s son. When the guy went to look for his son at school, his wife received a call from a man who identified himself as “Johnson.” Johnson said he kidnapped Bobby. Jacob was ordered by authorities to await further instructions from the kidnappers before he and his companions took to the streets, which could have put Bobby in danger.

The next day, a ransom note was sent to the Franks’ home. The note told Jacob to receive $10,000 and hide it in a cigar box. Jacob was in the process of completing the request when he received a second call, telling him that the city morgue had a body matching Bobby’s age. However, when they learned that the deceased wore glasses, they felt relieved because Bobby wasn’t wearing glasses. Since Bobby’s family didn’t want the media to print false information, one of Bobby’s uncles went to the morgue to verify the information.

However, before Jacob could hand over the ransom, Bobby’s uncle called to clarify that the body in question actually belonged to her son. This news prevented Jacob from leaving. As a manufacturing worker was walking back to the plant after the night shift, he was walking through the Wolf Lake area of ​​Hammond, Indiana, when he found Bobby’s body in the bushes. About 25 miles north of Chicago, police officers arrived at the site, which was a culvert next to railroad tracks owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. In order to uncover Bobby’s true identity, the perpetrator or perpetrators had applied hydrochloric acid to his face and genital area. The face was so horribly disfigured that the authorities almost didn’t notice the wounds on his head.

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Who would want to kill Bobby Franks?

Although authorities didn’t have much lead or evidence, they decided to focus their investigation on the teachers and staff at Bobby’s school. According to the episode, authorities believed that the fact that the perpetrator had mutilated genitals indicated that a perverted person(s) was involved. They initially suspected the English teacher because, according to various students, he had made inappropriate offers to some students. Despite this, he was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The junior version of Nathan Freudenthal Leopold

Police considered the glasses found at the scene to be the most important piece of evidence in their possession. The mill worker had mistakenly believed the glasses belonged to the victim and consequently placed them on Bobby’s face, causing the initial confusion. Although the prescription for the horn-rimmed glasses was very common, they were reportedly equipped with a distinguishing feature that ultimately led police to the perpetrator of the crime. That feature was a patented hinge that connected the earpiece to the nose piece of the glasses.

Almer Coe & Company was the only Chicago location where these hinges could be purchased from the New York company, which was their sole manufacturer. This retailer had previously only sold a total of three glasses fitted with such hinges; One of these pairs belonged to a lady, the other had been bought by a lawyer who was traveling in Europe at the time of the murder. Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr., who was initially questioned by police as a potential witness, ended up buying the third pair of shoes that were for sale. Leopold explained it’s possible he misplaced his glasses while watching the birds outside.

Richard Albert Loeb

In addition, police discovered that Nathan had a close buddy named Richard Loeb, who some people claim was also his friend. On May 29, 1924, both men were brought in for formal questioning and Richard was the first to confess during the formal questioning. He explained that Nathan was the mastermind behind the crime and that he used a chisel to kill Bobby while Richard was driving the car. Soon after, Nathan also admitted to the crime, claiming that he was just the driver and that Richard was the actual killer. Both confessions were released on May 31, 1924, although police were unable to identify the perpetrator of the murder.

Robert E. Franken
Robert E. Franken

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Is it true that Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb both passed away?

Nathan and Richard allegedly killed Bobby because they were bored and wanted to commit the perfect crime, inspired by their delusion that they were Übermensch, which is German for “superman”. The most amazing aspect of the murder, however, was the purpose behind it. In July 1924 the trial of the two accused murderers, defended by the well-known lawyer Clarence Darrow, began. The trial lasted a total of 33 days, and as a result of Clarence’s eloquent and well-known argument against the use of the death penalty, both defendants were eventually sentenced to 99 years in prison for kidnapping and life in prison for murder. The convicted killers were housed at Northern Illinois Penitentiary, located near Joliet, Illinois.

In 1931, Nathan was transferred to Stateville Penitentiary, and Richard was next in line to make the journey. The two were able to maintain their friendship and even played a large part in expanding the prison school system. In particular, they advocated the inclusion of high school and junior college courses in the existing prison training program. On January 28, 1936, a fellow inmate named James Day was responsible for the murder of Richard, which took place in the prison’s shower room. James had used a razor to inflict more than 50 cuts on Richard’s body, including slitting his throat as he stood behind him.

A depressed prisoner at the time, Nathan continued his work and published his autobiography, Life Plus 99 Years, in 1958. In March 1958 he was paroled and allowed to leave prison. After working as a medical technician in a Puerto Rico hospital, Nathan settled in Santurce and married a flower shop owner who was previously widowed. He then received a master’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, where he also attended lectures and later did research on leprosy at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine. He also attended the University of Puerto Rico. On August 29, 1971, he died of natural causes, specifically a heart attack related to his diabetes, at the age of 66.

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