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 Nathan Leopold

Nathan Leopold

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 29 Aug 1971 (aged 66)
San Juan Municipality, Puerto Rico, USA
Burial Donated to medical science, Specifically: University of Puerto Rico
Memorial ID 5558 · View Source
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Murderer. Nathan was the son of a wealthy family of immigrant German Jews who had made a freight and transport-related fortune since their arrival in the United States. Reportedly a child prodigy with an IQ of 210, Nathan spoke his first words at 4 months old and amazed a succession of nannies and governesses with his intellectual precocity. In the 1920's Nathan had already completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and was attending law school at the University of Chicago. He claimed to have been able to speak 27 languages fluently, and was an expert ornithologist. Nathan, along with several other ornithologists (zoologist who focuses on birds) were the first to discover the Kirtland's warbler in their area in over half a century. Nathan planned to transfer to Harvard Law School in September after taking a trip to Europe. Although Nathan and Loeb knew each other casually while growing up, their relationship flourished when they met at the University of Chicago as teenagers. They quickly formed a strong friendship. Nathan and Loeb found that they had a mutual interest in crime, Nathan being particularly interested in Friedrich Nietzsche's theory of the superman. It was now that they began to look deeper into their criminal interests that the two boys began to commit crimes for themselves. Nathan agreed to act as Loeb's accomplice. They began with petty theft and vandalism. They broke into a fraternity house at the university. They stole penknives, a camera and a typewriter (later used to type the ransom letter). Nathan and Loeb soon committed a series of more and more serious crimes such as arson. He and Loeb had formed a strong intimate relationship with each other. This relationship was thought to be Loeb's way of repaying Nathan for his participation in the crimes, or even used to convince him to follow through on his plans. Loeb was the dominant figure in this relationship and possessed the power over Nathan. They became increasingly obsessed with the development and commission of the perfect crime. On May 21, 1924, Loeb and Nathan put their plan into action, collecting a rental car, obscuring its number plates and then driving to their old alma mater, the Harvard School, in search of a convenient victim. They settled on 14-year-old Bobby Franks, a neighbor of the Loebs. Lured into the car, Franks was hit over the head with a chisel by Loeb and gagged before being hidden under some blankets on the back seat of the car. After depositing Franks' body in a culvert at nearby Wolf Lake, they delivered the ransom note to the boy's father, Jacob Franks. Unbeknownst to Nathan and Loeb, Jacob Franks had contacted the police, and Bobby Franks' body was found and identified before the ransom was delivered. Nathan and Loeb were interrogated by police and eventually Loeb admitted the murder, claiming that Nathan had been the driving force behind the plan and that he had struck the fatal blow on Franks. Nathan claimed the opposite was true. The families hired Clarence Darrow, the country's foremost criminal defense lawyer, to represent the pair at trial. On September 24, 1924 Nathan and Loeb each received a life sentence for the murder. Early in 1958, after 33 years in prison, Nathan was released on parole. In April of that year, he set up the Leopold foundation "to aid emotionally disturbed, retarded, or delinquent youths" which would be funded by the royalties from his book, Life Plus 99 Years. But in July, the State of Illinois voided his charter for the organization, saying it violated the terms of his parole. In 1961, he married a widowed American social worker named Trudi de Queveda. On August 30, 1971, Nathan died of a diabetes-related heart attack.

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jun 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5558
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Nathan Leopold (19 Nov 1904–29 Aug 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5558, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Donated to medical science, who reports a University of Puerto Rico.