In 1924, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two intelligent and affluent young men, committed a horrific act to display their intelligence. We will discuss their precisely planned kidnapping and murder of a young boy and the media frenzy that followed their trial and punishment.
We will also analyze their attitude of entitlement and how their intelligence led to life sentences instead of the death penalty.
Nathan Leopold’s IQ
Nathan Leopold was known for his exceptional intelligence and was believed to have an incredibly high IQ. Here are some interesting facts about Leopold’s intelligence:
- Leopold had an IQ of 210, which is considered to be in the “genius” range.
- At the age of 19, Leopold had already earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago.
- Leopold was a polyglot, meaning he could speak multiple languages fluently, including French, German, and Latin.
- Leopold was a chess prodigy and had even competed in national chess tournaments.
- He was also an accomplished pianist and had studied under the famous composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni.
- Leopold was a voracious reader and had an extensive knowledge of literature, philosophy, and science.
- He was particularly interested in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose ideas about the “superman” and the power of the will to overcome moral constraints may have influenced Leopold’s belief in his own superiority.
- Despite his intelligence, Leopold was also deeply troubled and had a disturbing fascination with crime and violence.
- His high IQ and privileged upbringing are often cited as contributing factors to his sense of entitlement and belief that he was above the law.
Read our more articles on serial killers and their IQs:
- The Shocking Truth About the Least Intelligent Serial Killers and How They Fooled the Police
- California’s 16 Most Terrifying Serial Killers From Wayne Adam Ford to Rodney Alcala
Leopold and Loeb’s Perfect Crime
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb’s crime was a shocking and notorious event in American history. Here are some mind-blowing facts about their crime:
- Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, both wealthy and intelligent students at the University of Chicago, decided to commit the “perfect crime” in 1924.
- They kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy named Bobby Franks, who was a distant relative of Loeb’s, simply to prove their intellectual superiority and to experience the thrill of killing someone.
- They meticulously planned the murder for months, including buying a car and a typewriter, sending ransom notes, and disposing of the body in a remote location.
- The murder shocked the nation, and the ensuing trial became a media sensation. Clarence Darrow, one of the most famous lawyers of the time, defended Leopold and Loeb, arguing that their crime was the result of a mental illness.
- The trial was also notable for its use of psychological experts, who testified about Leopold and Loeb’s twisted relationship and their abnormal sexual desires.
- Despite the defense’s arguments, Leopold and Loeb were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
- In prison, Leopold became interested in ornithology and eventually became a respected expert in the field. He was also granted parole in 1958 after serving 33 years in prison.
- Loeb was killed in prison in 1936 by a fellow inmate who claimed he was defending himself from Loeb’s sexual advances.
- The Leopold and Loeb case remains a chilling example of the dangers of unchecked privilege and entitlement and the lengths to which some people will go to prove their superiority.
Why Did Leopold and Loeb Not Get the Death Penalty?
The most important part of the trial was Clarence Darrow’s closing statement, which he gave over the course of twelve hours in a hot courtroom. Darrow said that his clients were guilty, but that their acts were caused by things beyond their control.
Phillip Johnson, a law expert, says this about Darrow’s point of view: “Nature made them do it, evolution made them do it, and Nietzsche made them do it. So they shouldn’t get the death penalty.” Darrow talked the judge into letting his clients go free. Both Leopold and Loeb got life sentences.
The next year, Clarence Darrow was one of the most important people in another “trial of the century.” He supported John Scopes, who taught evolution in Tennessee even though it was against the law. The mics for WGN radio were sent to Dayton, Tennessee. It seemed like a better idea to show a trial about ideas than a shocking murder.
Richard Loeb was killed in a fight with another prisoner in 1936. Nathan Leopold got out of jail in 1958, after being locked up for thirty-four years. He died in 1971.
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