Guide The Perfect Crime: The Real Life Crime that Inspired Hitchcock’s Rope

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They committed the murder—characterized at the time as "the crime of the century" [2] —as a demonstration of their perceived intellectual superiority, which, they thought, rendered them capable of carrying out a " perfect crime ", and absolved them of responsibility for their actions. After the two men were arrested, Loeb's family retained Clarence Darrow as counsel for their defense. Darrow's hour-long summation at their sentencing hearing is noted for its influential criticism of capital punishment as retributive rather than transformative justice.

Both young men were sentenced to life imprisonment plus 99 years. Loeb was murdered by a fellow prisoner in ; Leopold was released on parole in The Franks murder has been the inspiration for several dramatic works, including Patrick Hamilton 's play Rope and Alfred Hitchcock 's film of the same name.

Later movies, such as Compulsion —adapted from Meyer Levin's novel—and Swoon , Murder by Numbers were also based on the crime. Though he skipped several grades in school, and became the University of Michigan 's youngest graduate at age 17, he was described as "lazy", "unmotivated", and "obsessed with crime", but also well-dressed and handsome, with a fascination for crime that had him spending much of his time reading detective novels, pulp periodicals and newspaper crime reports. The two young men grew up with their respective families in the affluent Kenwood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

The Loebs owned a summer estate, now called Castle Farms , in Charlevoix, Michigan , in addition to their mansion in Kenwood, two blocks from the Leopold home. Though Leopold and Loeb knew each other casually while growing up, meeting in the summer of , [12] their relationship flourished at the University of Chicago, particularly after they discovered a mutual interest in crime. Leopold believed that he was one of these individuals, and as such, by his interpretation of Nietzsche's doctrines, he was not bound by any of society's normal ethics or rules. In a letter to Loeb, Leopold wrote, "A superman He is not liable for anything he may do.

The pair began asserting their perceived immunity from normal restrictions with acts of petty theft and vandalism. Emboldened, they progressed to a series of more serious crimes, including arson , [15] but no one seemed to notice. Disappointed with the absence of media coverage of their crimes, they decided to plan and execute a sensational "perfect crime" that would garner public attention, and confirm their self-proclaimed status as "supermen".

Leopold then 19 years old and Loeb 18 settled on the kidnapping and murder of an adolescent as their perfect crime. They spent seven months planning everything from the method of abduction to disposal of the body. To obfuscate the precise nature of their crime and their motive, they decided to make a ransom demand, and devised an intricate plan for collecting it, involving a long series of complex delivery instructions to be communicated, one set at a time, by phone.

They typed the final set of instructions involving the actual money drop in the form of a ransom note, using the typewriter stolen from the fraternity house. A chisel was selected as the murder weapon, and purchased. After a lengthy search for a suitable victim, mostly on the grounds of Harvard School for Boys in the Kenwood area, [18] where Loeb had been educated, they decided upon Robert "Bobby" Franks, the year-old son of wealthy Chicago watch manufacturer Jacob Franks. Loeb knew Bobby Franks well; he was his second cousin, an across-the-street neighbor, and had played tennis at the Loeb residence several times.

The pair put their carefully crafted plan in motion on the afternoon of May 21, Using an automobile that Leopold had rented under the name "Morton D. Ballard", they offered Franks a ride as he walked home from school. The boy refused initially, since his destination was less than two blocks away; [21] but Loeb persuaded him to enter the car to discuss a tennis racket that he had been using.

The precise sequence of the events that followed remains in dispute, but a preponderance of opinion placed Leopold behind the wheel of the car, while Loeb sat in the back seat with the chisel. Loeb struck Franks, sitting in front of him in the passenger seat, several times in the head with the chisel, then dragged him into the back seat, where he was gagged and soon died.

After nightfall they removed and discarded Franks' clothes, then concealed the body in a culvert along the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks north of the lake. To obscure the body's identification they poured hydrochloric acid on the face, and on a distinctive abdominal scar, as well as the genitals to conceal the fact that he was circumcised.

By the time the two men returned to Chicago, word had already spread that Franks was missing. Leopold called Franks's mother, identifying himself as "George Johnson", and told her that Franks had been kidnapped; instructions for delivering the ransom would follow. After mailing the typed ransom note, burning their blood-stained clothing, and cleaning the bloodstains from the rented vehicle's upholstery as best they could, they spent the remainder of the evening playing cards. Once the Franks family received the ransom note the following morning, Leopold called a second time and dictated the first set of ransom payment instructions.

The intricate plan stalled almost immediately when a nervous family member forgot the address of the store where he was supposed to receive the next set of directions; and it was abandoned entirely when word came that a man named Tony Minke had found the boy's body.

Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE was Based on Real Murderers Leopold and Loeb

Chicago police launched an intensive investigation; rewards were offered for information. While Loeb went about his daily routine quietly, Leopold spoke freely to police and reporters, offering theories to any who would listen. He even told one detective, "If I were to murder anybody, it would be just such a cocky little son of a bitch as Bobby Franks". Police found a pair of eyeglasses near the body. Though common in prescription and frame, they were equipped with an unusual hinge mechanism [27] purchased by only three customers in Chicago; one was Nathan Leopold. The two men were summoned for formal questioning on May Their alibi was exposed as a fabrication when Leopold's chauffeur told police that he was repairing Leopold's car that night, while the men claimed to be using it.


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The chauffeur's wife later confirmed that the car was parked in the Leopold garage on the night of the murder. Leopold's confession followed swiftly thereafter; [35] but he insisted that he was the driver, and Loeb the murderer. Their confessions otherwise corroborated most of the evidence in the case. The trial of Leopold and Loeb, at Chicago's Courthouse Place , became a media spectacle, and the third—after those of Harry Thaw and Sacco and Vanzetti —to be labeled "the trial of the century ". Caverly to impose sentences of life imprisonment.

The trial technically a sentencing hearing because of the entry of guilty pleas ran for 32 days. The state's attorney, Robert E. Crowe , presented over a hundred witnesses documenting details of the crime. The defense presented extensive psychiatric testimony in an effort to establish mitigating circumstances, including childhood neglect in the form of absent parenting and, in Leopold's case, sexual abuse by a governess. Darrow's impassioned hour-long "masterful plea" [43] at the conclusion of the hearing has been called the finest speech of his career.

This terrible crime was inherent in his organism, and it came from some ancestor Is any blame attached because somebody took Nietzsche's philosophy seriously and fashioned his life upon it?

Hitch20 Extra - Long Shot in "The Perfect Crime"

It is hardly fair to hang a year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the university. Now, your Honor, I have spoken about the war. I believed in it. I don't know whether I was crazy or not. Sometimes I think perhaps I was. I approved of it; I joined in the general cry of madness and despair. I urged men to fight.

I was safe because I was too old to go. I was like the rest. What did they do? Right or wrong, justifiable or unjustifiable—which I need not discuss today—it changed the world. For four long years the civilized world was engaged in killing men.


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  5. Christian against Christian, barbarian uniting with Christians to kill Christians; anything to kill. It was taught in every school, aye in the Sunday schools. The little children played at war. The toddling children on the street. Do you suppose this world has ever been the same since?

    How long, your Honor, will it take for the world to get back the humane emotions that were slowly growing before the war? How long will it take the calloused hearts of men before the scars of hatred and cruelty shall be removed? We read of killing one hundred thousand men in a day. We read about it and we rejoiced in it—if it was the other fellows who were killed. We were fed on flesh and drank blood. Even down to the prattling babe. I need not tell you how many upright, honorable young boys have come into this court charged with murder, some saved and some sent to their death, boys who fought in this war and learned to place a cheap value on human life.

    You know it and I know it. These boys were brought up in it. The tales of death were in their homes, their playgrounds, their schools; they were in the newspapers that they read; it was a part of the common frenzy—what was a life? It was the least sacred thing in existence and these boys were trained to this cruelty. It will take fifty years to wipe it out of the human heart, if ever. I know this, that after the Civil War in , crimes of this sort increased, marvelously.

    No one needs to tell me that crime has no cause. It has as definite a cause as any other disease, and I know that out of the hatred and bitterness of the Civil War crime increased as America had never seen before. I know that Europe is going through the same experience today; I know it has followed every war; and I know it has influenced these boys so that life was not the same to them as it would have been if the world had not made red with blood. I protest against the crimes and mistakes of society being visited upon them. All of us have a share in it.

    I cannot tell and I shall never know how many words of mine might have given birth to cruelty in place of love and kindness and charity. Your Honor knows that in this very court crimes of violence have increased growing out of the war. Not necessarily by those who fought but by those that learned that blood was cheap, and human life was cheap, and if the State could take it lightly why not the boy?

    There are causes for this terrible crime. There are causes as I have said for everything that happens in the world. War is a part of it; education is a part of it; birth is a part of it; money is a part of it—all these conspired to compass the destruction of these two poor boys. Has the court any right to consider anything but these two boys? The State says that your Honor has a right to consider the welfare of the community, as you have. Killers of the Flower Moon: It will sear your soul. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

    Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned.

    Alfred Hitchcock’s ROPE was Based on Real Murderers Leopold and Loeb – The 13th Floor

    And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances. In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. In desperation, the young director, J. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau.

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    The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood.

    Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals.