Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Leopold & Loeb

Arrests & Alibis

Attorney Crowe examining evidence
Attorney Crowe examining evidence

State's Attorney Crowe was sensitive to questioning the son of a prominent family in the police station with voracious reporters swarming around. Instead, on May, 29, 1924, Nathan Leopold was to be taken to a room at the LaSalle Hotel where he could be questioned discreetly.

Police arrived at his house in the afternoon just before one of Leopold's classes on birds. They asked him if he had lost his glasses and he said that he hadn't. Later, they searched the house, but the glasses could not be found.

Eventually, Leopold confirmed that the eyeglasses were his and that he must have lost them a few days before the death of Bobby Franks when he had gone birding at Wolf Lake on Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18 with two other boys. He said that he had tripped and the glasses probably had fallen out of his breast pocket at that time.

Nathan Leopold
Nathan Leopold

One of Crowe's assistants had Leopold put the glasses in his breast pocket and re-create the fall. The glasses did not fall out of the pocket. The questioning became more intense.

When questioned about his activities on the day of the murder, initially Leopold was vague. Finally, he admitted that he had spent most of the day with his friend Richard Loeb, eating, drinking and looking for birds in Lincoln Park. After dinner, they picked up two girls and drove around until they went to Leopold's house where his aunt and uncle were waiting to be driven home.

As he was pressed for detail after detail, Leopold answered quickly and calmly. The inquisitors turned to questions about his personal life. In 1923, he had been graduated from the University of Chicago and had been attending law school. He planned to attend Harvard Law School later that year. He was very accomplished in the study of languages, was fluent in five and familiar with fifteen foreign languages.

He owned a Hammond Multiplex typewriter which the police confiscated and agreed that he had sufficient education to have composed the ransom note. He also agreed that the note did contain some legal wording, although it was not written by a lawyer.

The Typewriter
The Typewriter

Leopold had not known the Franks family, but had been following the case just like everyone else in Chicago.

After police had confiscated some of his letters, Leopold admitted that he had planned to translate the works of an Italian writer who wrote about acts of sexual perversion. However, he said he had never engaged in any sexual acts with his friend Richard Loeb.

Leopold was questioned until 4 A.M., after which he was taken to the police station to sleep until the next round of questioning. He did not realize it but his friend Richard Loeb had been picked up for questioning shortly after Leopold had been. Like Leopold, Loeb was being interrogated in another room in the LaSalle Hotel.


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