Leopold & Loeb: The Killing of Bobby Franks (Killer Queens Book 1)

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Book 1 of the series focuses on what has been called "The Crime of the Century" in 1920s United States. At the center of this murder case were Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb – two wealthy University of Chicago students who, in May of 1924, kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks.
First 10 Pages

Nathan Leopold was already in a bad mood, as he was frustrated that his “Brilliantine” brand of hair pomade didn’t arrive, and he was left to use some common product purchased locally. Brilliantine, made by French designer Edouard Pinaud, was a product that people of his caliber not only deserved but required. It was a must-have if he ever wanted to attend a proper function or attend a dinner date. Leopold spent hours dressing his hair with the expensive pomade, all while looking into the mirror and dreaming. He wore one of his three-piece solid-

colored suits. He didn’t go for the latest fashion that boasted bright, vibrant colors or patterns. Leopold loved the soft feel of his hair as he ran his fingers through it and the delicious scent it permeated. It wouldn’t be long before he drifted off into space, fantasizing that Loeb was standing beside him, and it was Loeb who was running his hands through his hair. Leopold had done this so often that he began to associate the scent of the pomade with Loeb. This was the reason that he was so frustrated that day. He was going to spend hours driving with Loeb in the car without that attractive scent that

always aroused him so much. Six hours would feel like six minutes. Despite his poor frame of mind, on the evening of November 10, 1923, Leopold agreed to drive Loeb from Chicago to the University of Michigan. The drive would take around six hours one way, and they were going to burglarize Loeb’s former fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau. The total take ended up being about $80 in loose change, a few watches, some penknives, and a typewriter. It had been a considerable effort for little reward, which would also mean little sexual pleasure for Leopold as well. When they were driving back to Chicago, there was complete silence in the car. Loeb tried to start a conversation several times, but Leopold would only give one-word answers. His responses were short and stark, with him using only one or two words. Loeb ignored Leopold’s silence for the first hour as he was working the perfect crime out in his mind. Loeb asked, “What’s wrong, Babe?”

“You talk a lot and keep saying the same things over and over again. When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed,” Leopold replied. “You love my way. I know that you do,” Loeb answered back. Leopold then blurted out, “I am tired of committing these useless crimes and therefore receiving little in return.” (Meaning affection.) Loeb knew that the only way he could break Leopold’s silence would be to show him some affection. “You know what I require. It isn’t a secret to you. You know that I love you, Babe. There’s no need for this behavior, this drama now.” While Loeb was working out details of his perfect crime in his mind, he stared out into the wilderness of the fields they were passing by. As he started to lay out his plan, he became frustrated that no press had reported on any of the crimes the pair had committed so far. Loeb wanted to commit the ultimate crime, or "crime of the century," as he would call it, that would have not only all of Chicago talking but the whole world.

Leopold was now analyzing Loeb’s behavior. He was beginning to believe that Loeb was sexually insane – a popular term used throughout the Victorian age for those who could only get aroused or perform sexually in what was then considered normal. It was a catch-all phrase used to put people, mainly women, in an asylum if they didn’t behave according to the moral standards of the time. But this surely wasn’t Loeb, Leopold kept saying to himself. After all, he had several girlfriends and always behaved properly. But why did he need to act in a criminal manner to perform with him? Was it that Loeb thought that man love was indeed a criminal act, just as stealing or setting fires to other people’s property? If this was true, then what did Loeb think about him? Suddenly, Loeb blurted out, “This is the day that your life will surely change. This is the day that things will fall into place. What could be more sensational than the kidnapping and murder of a child? If we demanded a ransom from the parents, so much the better. It would be a complex and

challenging task to obtain the ransom without being caught. To kidnap a child would be an act of daring, and no one,” Loeb proclaimed, “would ever know who had accomplished it.” But would such a crime be worth risking their freedom or even their lives? What would happen to them if they were caught? How could they and their families live down such a scandal? In Loeb’s opinion, the police were not nearly clever enough to catch them. And frankly, the people that live in society deserved the criminals and crimes they had. The decision to commit this crime or not eventually came down to the reward Leopold would receive. Leopold: “Just what exactly are you proposing?” Loeb: “I’m not proposing anything, my dear. I’m just giving you the information on how you might get what you want.” Leopold: “And just what is it that you think I could want?”

Loeb: “We both know what it is you desire. We just never talk about it.” Leopold: “If that is the case, why would you think that I’d want it from you? After all, who wants it if it’s not wanted as much by the giver?” Loeb: “This is what I’m telling you. If you want it from me, you have to stoke my passion to want to give it to you. Why don’t you understand?” Leopold: “Passion should come from the heart, not the mind.” Loeb: “Who decides this? Why does it matter what lights my fire? As long as it’s lit for you when you want it?” Leopold: “Again then, what is it exactly that you are proposing?” Loeb: “When is it that you see me my most excited? When is it that you see such passion in my eyes?” Leopold: “Dear, I only see that when we are on one of your adventures.” Loeb: “Exactly!” Leopold: “But I don’t want to be having love during a crime.”

Loeb: “We don’t need to have it during the crime. How many times has passion taken over your mind, so much so that you had almost no control over whatever else you were doing? Even without being with that person, your mind is completely absorbed in the passion.” Leopold: “Yes.” Loeb: “So, if you’re to think of me, and when you’ve seen me in that condition, and what it is that we are doing, perhaps if you do that for me, I will share my passion with you.” Leopold: “How do we establish such a deal? How do you quantify it? When do I receive payment?” Loeb: “Well, let’s see. It should be based on the level of passion and desire that you permit to me. In the case of a simple, light crime, you would need to conduct, let’s say, two or three crimes.” Leopold: “I need to be a little more assured on what I get and for what I do.” Loeb: “It’s simple. You already know by now what excites me and how much each crime excites me, so plan accordingly.”

Leopold: “Are you saying that it’s the severity of the crime? Or the length of time that it takes?” Loeb: “Both really. The severity of the crime will give you the amount of passion that I could share with you. And the length of time that the crime takes will guide you for how long I’m willing to give it.” Leopold: “That’s interesting. What level of crime are you willing to accomplish?” Loeb: “I’ll leave that to you. After all, this is part of what creates my excitement – having you create a plan and propose it to me. The more evil the crime, the more excited I will be.” Leopold: “You’ll go as far as I will suggest?” Loeb: “Of course.” Leopold: “Would you like it if we did something evil to someone, rather than just their property?” Loeb: “Now, you are understanding what I mean.” Leopold: “Perhaps kidnap, sexual assault, or even murder?” Loeb: “Now, I am getting excited. Just you saying the words lights my passion.”

Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 19, 1904. His parents, Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Sr.and Florence G. Leopold were very wealthy and well-connected to the Jewish community who immigrated from Germany. His father was successful in several businesses, including a shipping company, an aluminum can manufacturing company, and a paper box-making company. His father was constantly traveling away from home for business, and his mother was bedridden with a virus shortly after Nathan had been born. Even though it was never talked about, Nathan felt responsible for his mother’s illness. Nathan was primarily raised by his nanny, Mathilda “Sweetie” Wantz, a beautiful thirty-something-year-old from Germany. Nathan was considered an above-average intelligence boy who spoke his first words when he was only four months old. But at the age of six, when he started to attend school, he was constantly picked on and teased as he was very quiet, clumsy, and didn’t like to play sports with the other boys. His older brothers Michael and Samuel never