Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Leopold & Loeb

Darrow Takes the Case

Clarence Darrow
Clarence Darrow

The boys had already done irreparable harm to their defense, not only in their confessions, but in helping locate evidence that would be used against them and by running off at the mouth to their captors, newspapermen and anyone else who would give them an audience.

Leopold told one reporter, "Why, we even rehearsed the kidnapping at least three times, carrying it through in all details, lacking only the boy we were to kidnap and kill...It was just an experiment. It is as easy for us to justify as an entomologist in impaling a beetle on a pin."

Loeb told the police captain, "This thing will be the making of me. I'll spend a few years in jail and I'll be released. I'll come out to a new life."

The police took careful notes and the newspapermen wrote furiously as the boys kept talking and talking.

Darrow was on the case the next day. Sunday, June 1, he waited with Jacob Loeb and Benjamin Bachrach until the boys had been returned from another evidence gathering expedition. They demanded to see the two boys, but were refused. Crowe had three traditional alienists forensic psychiatrists lined up to interview the boys that afternoon to confirm that they were indeed sane as well as guilty.

Early the next morning, Darrow and Bachrach were in Crowe's office demanding that the two boys be moved to the county jail where he and Bachrach and their families could see them. Again Crowe refused so that his alienists could get additional evidence of their sanity. Crowe assumed that Darrow would plead them not guilty by reason of insanity and he wanted to be sure that the prosecution had enough evidence of the boys' sanity before their lawyers cut off their damaging testimony.

However, Darrow had with him an order from Judge John R. Caverly. The boys were allowed to meet with their attorneys before being confined in the country jail.

"Be polite. Be courteous, " Darrow told them. "But don't give Crowe any more help. Just keep quiet and refuse to answer questions."

Pampered in everyday life, the boys were also pampered in jail. Stein's Restaurant catered to their need for good food, cigarettes and liquor, which was sneaked into them since it was Prohibition times.

On June 5, 1924, the grand jury indicted the two boys on eleven counts of murder and sixteen counts of kidnapping. The very next day, their full confessions were published in the newspapers. The public was incensed, not just over the crime itself, but the perception, fanned by the news media, that the wealthy Loebs and the wealthy Leopolds were going to pay Clarence Darrow a million dollars to save their sons from the gallows.

With Darrow's help, the families constructed a joint statement, which in summary said, "There will be no large sums of money spent, either for legal or medical talent."

Walter Bachrach, Benjamin's brother, promptly went to the American Psychiatric Association's annual convention and recruited three top flight experts: Dr. William A. White, president of the APA and superintendent of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.; Dr. William Healy, an expert in juvenile criminal psychiatry; and Dr. Bernard Glueck, head of the psychiatric clinic at Sing Sing Prison in New York State. Unlike Crowe's traditional alienists, Bachrach's experts were innovative Freudians who believed in subconscious motives and compulsions. Two other psychiatrists were also employed, Dr. Harold Hulbert and Dr. Carl Bowman.

Leopold loved the sessions with the alienists. His ego was intensely gratified that these experts were putting his personality under a microscope. It also gave him a chance to talk continuously about himself. Loeb, on the other hand, was bored with the entire process and occasionally fell asleep. Neither boy showed any guilt or remorse for their cold-blooded crime, though both of them were upset that they had brought down so much misery on their families.


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