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A Murder Case that Gripped America Twice

In 1924, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Robert Franks. It was a sensational crime, as both the killers and the victim were from wealthy and prominent families, which influenced the investigation. Although both eventually pled guilty, the real mystery was why they did it. Leopold and Loeb had no particular hatred for Franks.

The prosecution’s experts downplayed any evidence of mental disturbance and claimed the motive was largely financial. That was most certainly not true. With rich allowances and indulgent families, the boys lacked for nothing. Though they sent a ransom note demanding ten thousand dollars, these killers were heirs to fortunes thousands of times greater than the ransom. And in truth, they never had any intention of returning the victim to his family. For these boys, the ransom was a way to exert power over the victim’s family. The money was proof of their superiority, it was not the motive.

Thirty years after the crime, it became a sensation again as the subject of a 1956 “true crime novel” titled Compulsion by Meyer Levin. The Daily Beast takes a look at the original crime through the revelations in the later novel, in what may be a nearly-century-old case of “affluenza.”  -via Digg

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