This week in history: Robert Franks found murdered, launching Leopold and Loeb trial

On May 22, 1924, the body of 14-year-old Robert Franks was found murdered on Chicago’s South Side. The murder would launch the infamous Leopold and Loeb trial.

SHARE This week in history: Robert Franks found murdered, launching Leopold and Loeb trial
Headline for Bobby Franks’ murder in Chicago Daily News

The murder of Robert “Bobby” Franks made the headline of the Chicago Daily News on May 22, 1924.

Chicago Daily News

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

A gruesome discovery connected to what would later be dubbed the “crime of the century” was made in Chicago 96 years ago this week.

A report in the May 22, 1924 edition of the Chicago Daily News detailed the discovery that morning of 14-year-old murder victim Robert “Bobby” Franks, whose body was found “stuffed into a culvert under the Pennsylvania railroad tracks at 118th street,” the report said. At the time, officials didn’t even realize they had a murder victim.

This Week in History sign-up

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Want more “This Week In History” content delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our Afternoon Edition newsletter for a rundown of the day’s biggest stories every weekday and a deep-dive into Chicago history every Saturday.

But before Franks was found, his family had received a letter from the kidnappers, demanding $10,000 for the boy’s safe return.

Franks’ killers — University of Chicago Students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb — had picked up the teen the previous afternoon while he walked to his Kenwood home, the report said. The pair had decided they would attempt to commit the perfect crime, reportedly just to prove they could get away with it.

“The police first diagnosed the case as accidental drowning, for the head wounds were not easily seen,” the report explained.

Once the two stab wounds on the boy’s head were identified, Franks’ uncle was allowed to view the body. “It’s Robert,” he cried.

The criminal trial that followed — “the trial of the century” — would go on to captivate the nation, catapult defense attorney Clarence Darrow to fame, and inspire the novel “Compulsion” and movies including Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film “Rope.”

The Latest
If Grandma won’t store the 4-year-old’s stuff at her place, the only alternative is to start donating and trashing.
Grifol knows it’s a hot topic every time he starts veteran Martin Maldonado and his .083 batting average behind the plate. But Grifol emphasized the importance of giving Korey Lee a break from his catching duties.
‘‘It’s a different animal up here,‘‘ Thorpe, 23, said after allowing six hits and five walks. ’’It’s good to get it out of the way, move on and get better for the next one.‘‘
Two men were shot about 3:20 p.m. Sunday in the 11500 block of South LaSalle Street, police said. One man died at Christ Hospital. The other man is in serious condition. No one is in custody.