Nathan Leopold's Confession
The confessions of Leopold and Loeb were transcribed interviews conducted by the State's Attorney Crowe and his assistants. Each boy's confession was read in the presence of the other. Both accused the other of committing the actual murder. At the end of Loeb's confession, Leopold adds to Loeb's statement, including his statement that Loeb committed the crime.
"Now, Nathan, I just want you to go on in your own way and tell us the story from the beginning, tell us the whole thing."
When we planned a general thing of this sort was as long ago as last November I guess at least, and we started on the process of how to get the money, which was the most difficult problem. We had several dozen different plans, all of which were not so good for one reason or other. Finally we hit upon the plan of having money thrown from a moving train, after the train had passed a given landmark. The landmark we finally chose was the factory of the Champion Manufacturing Company at 74th Street and the I.C. Railroad tracks. The next problem was the system of notification to the father. We originally planned a number of relays, in other words the man was to receive a special delivery letter telling him his son had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom, then to secure ten thousand dollars in fifty-dollar bills and two thousand dollars in twenty-dollar bills. He was to get old, unmarked bills whose numbers were not in sequence, and these he was to place in a cigar box, securely tied, wrapped in white paper, the ends were to be sealed with sealing wax. The reason for this was to give the impression that the box would be delivered personally to a messenger of the real executives of the plan. He was then to receive a phone call at about one or two o'clock in the afternoon instructing him to proceed to a ‘Help Keep the City Clean' box whose location was to be definitely given. Then he was to find another note which would instruct him to proceed to a drugstore which had a public phone booth. He was to be called at this phone booth, the drugstore being very near the I. C. track, and given only just enough time to rush out, buy a ticket and board a through train without allowing him enough time to instruct detectives or police as to where he was going. In the train he was to proceed to the rear car, look in the box left for telegraph blanks for another letter. This letter instructed him to go to the rear platform of the car, face east and look for the first large red brick factory adjacent to the tracks which had a black water tower bearing a white inscription ‘Champion.' He was to count two or three after that and then throw the box as far to the east as he could.
"The next problem was getting the victim to kill. This was left undecided until the day we decided to pick the most likely-looking subject that came our way. The particular case happened to be Robert Franks. Richard was acquainted with Robert and asked him to come over to our car for a moment. This occurred near 49th and Ellis Avenue. Robert came over in the car, was introduced to me and Richard asked him if he did not want to help him."
"Richard Loeb. He replied no, but Richard said, well, come in a minute. I want to ask you about a certain tennis racket. After he had gotten in, I stepped on the gas, proceeded south on Ellis Avenue to 50th Street. In the meantime Richard asked Robert if he minded if we took him around the block, to which Robert said, no. As soon as we turned the corner, Richard placed his one hand over Robert's mouth to stifle his outcry, with his right beating him on the head several times with a chisel, especially prepared for the purpose. The boy did not succumb as readily as we had believed so for fear of being observed Richard seized him, and pulled him into the back seat. Here he forced a cloth into his mouth. Apparently the boy died instantly by suffocation shortly thereafter. We proceeded out to Calumet Boulevard in Indiana, drove along this road that leads to Gary, being a rather deserted place. We even stopped to buy a couple of sandwiches and some drinks for supper."
"On Calumet Boulevard at I guess 132nd Street; the body was covered by an automobile robe which we had brought along for the purpose. We drove up and down this road until dark, then proceeded over the path which leads out towards Hegewich, from 108th and Avenue F to the prearranged spot for the disposal of the body. We had previously removed the shoes, trousers and stockings of the boy, leaving the shoes and the belt by the side of the road concealed in the grass. Having arrived at our destination we placed the body in the robe, carried it to the culvert where it was found. Here we completed the disrobing, then in an attempt to render identification more difficult we poured hydrochloric acid over the face and body. Then we placed the body into the drain pipe and pushed it as far as we could. We gathered up all the clothes, placed them in the robe and apparently at this point the glasses fell from my pocket. I carried the robe containing the clothes back to the automobile, a distance of some 300 yards, and one of the socks apparently dropped from the bundle. We then proceeded north to 104th and Ewing Avenue from where I telephoned my folks telling them I should be a trifle late in arriving home. We drove to 47th and Woodlawn and from there I telephoned the Franks' home. I spoke to Mrs. Franks and told her that my name was George Johnson and that her boy had been kidnapped but was safe, and that further instructions would follow. In passing 55th Street we had mailed a special delivery letter which had been completed except for the address which I printed on it. After taking my aunt and uncle home I returned to my home and after my father had retired, Richard and I proceeded to his home where we burned the remaining clothes, hid the robe and washed the more obvious blood stains from the automobile. Then I parked the automobile near my home. The next day at 2:30 Central time or 3:30 Chicago time we were down at the Illinois Central station at 12th Street. Here Richard bought a ticket to Michigan City on the three o'clock train , entered the train, and deposited the letter in the telegraph blank box. In the meantime I called the Franks' home and told Mr. Franks to proceed immediately to the drugstore at 1465 East 63rd Street and to wait at the easterly of the two public phone booths for a telephone call. I told him a Yellow cab would be at his door to take him. I repeated the number twice and he asked if he couldn't have a little more time, to which I replied no, it must be immediately. About the time I was phoning, Richard had returned from the train and we started out south intending to call the drugstore from Walgreen's store, 67th and Stony Island. We chanced to see a newspaper lying on the stand with headlines "Unidentified boy found in swamp." We deliberated a few moments as to what to do, Dick thinking that the game was up. I, however, insisted that it could do no harm to call the drugstore. This I did, but was told that no Mr. Franks was in the building. We then went to 68th and Stone Island, another drugstore, and again telephoned; we met with the same reply. Then we gave it up as a bad job and returned the car to a place where it had been rented. Our original plan had included a relay which was to send Mr. Franks to a "Help Keep the City Clean" box at the corner of Vincennes and Pershing but we had difficulty in making the envelope stick as we intended, and hence decided to eliminate this relay. Thursday, immediately after dinner, we drove the car to our garage and started to clean up the rest of the blood stains. Our Chauffeur, Sven Englund, noticed us and came out to help. Whereupon Richard told him it was merely some red wine which had been spilled."
"Who did clean it up?"
"Dick did most of it and I helped him."
"Is there anything else you can think of at this time?"
"Your original plan when you were thinking it out as late as last November, Nathan, did you have anyone at that time that was to be the victim?"
"Nobody in particular. We had considered Mr. Clarence Coleman, also Mr. Walter Baer, Walter Baer, Jr., as the victim and Clarence Coleman's son."
"When was the plan finally effected whereby you considered the Franks boy?"
"When we saw him on 49th by pure accident."
"At that time were you waiting for someone else?"
"We had been cruising around watching several groups of boys playing, waiting for somebody to start home."
"You had been doing that for how long, Nathan?"
"From about three o'clock in the evening until about five."
"And you did not have any boys prior to that time?"
"This day in particular you stayed out with the idea in mind of getting the boy that day, is that it?"
"What time did you meet Richard Loeb that day , Wednesday, May 21st, 1924?"
"At eleven o'clock."
"Where did you meet him?"
"At the University."
"What did you do after that?"
"Drove down in my car to the Rent-a-Car people."
"Where is that?"
"That is at 1408 or 10 Michigan Avenue."
"Then what did you do?"
"Rent a Willys Knight."
"At that time?"
"Under what name."
"Morton D. Ballard."
"Had you ever rented a car there before?"
"Under what name?"
"When did you rent a car there?"
"About three weeks previously."
"And you used it for what purpose?"
"Merely so we would have no difficulty in getting the car next time."
"Is that the letter you typed?"
"Will you look at that, Nathan? Is that the letter you addressed?"
"They handle Willys-Knights and Fords?"
"Willys-Knights and Fords."
"Willys-Knights and Fords exclusively, is that right?"
"What did you pay over there?"
"Seventeen cents a mile for Willys-Knights and 15 cents a mile for Fords."
"You could keep the car over night?"
"Yes, we made that arrangement Wednesday."
"After you got the car what time did you get the car down there that day?"
"Do you remember who you talked to there, Nathan?"
"It was one of two men, I don't remember."
"Can you remember the names?"
"You would know them if you saw them?"
"If I came over there for a car would they require any security?"
"Yes. The first time they made me deposit fifty dollars and the last time thirty-five. I was supposed to have an identification card of some sort, but I never received it, so I had to look up my old lease number and give that as reference."
"What address did you give, Nathan?"
"Originally the Morrison Hotel, went down and rented a room and left a suitcase in it, and sent some mail there for the purpose of having mail addressed to that address. When we went down to get our mail on the subsequent day the suitcase had been taken. Apparently the fact the beds had not been used was noticed and some suspicion occurred. The suitcase had been apparently confiscated and I therefore telephoned the Rent-A-Car people we had changed our address to Oakwood and Grand."
"You phoned over immediately that that was your new address?"
"Did you ever get your suitcase, Nathan, from the Morrison Hotel?"
"Did you register at the Morrison Hotel?"
"I did not; Richard did."
"Under the name of?"
"Morton D. Ballard."
"What day was that, do you remember, Nathan?"
"That was just prior to us getting the first car, I would say two or three weeks before."
"Whose suitcase was it?"
"You never applied for the suitcase after that?"
"No, I figured the suitcase was worth less than we owed."
"What kind of a suitcase was it?"
"It was a dilapidated suitcase, I could not describe it very well."
"Did you have anything in it?"
"I think there were some library books in it."
"You went then to this--what is the name of that hotel?"
"The Trenier Hotel. I had expected to stop there, but changed my plans and asked them to hold mail coming for Morton D. Ballard. I stopped there on a number of occasions after that. I would say as much as half a dozen times, and never did get any mail from there. This seemed very peculiar inasmuch as Richard addressed two letters to the Trenier Hotel."
"Did you get the letters back?"
"No, no return address on them."
"Went in the dead letter office?"
"I do not see why they should have. We followed them up two days afterwards."
"You say you did stop there several times after that?"
"Yes, sir, a number of times."
"You stopped, went over for the mail?"
"You did not register there?"
"At no time you registered there?"
"Did you ever register in any other hotel, Nathan, during this period?"
"No. I further opened a bank account in the Hyde Park State Bank at the corner of 53rd and Lake Park."
"Under the name of Morton D. Ballard?"
"How much money did you deposit there?"
"One hundred dollars."
"Have you drawn that out since that time?"
"Was it a checking account?"
"And you have no balance in the bank now?"
"That was opened up there during your negotiations with the deal on Michigan Avenue?"
"What was that name again?"
"That was for the purpose of--?"
"Having a good identification."
"This day you went down there for the car, who drove it?"
"Where was your car at that time?"
"Dick had my car just east of Michigan Boulevard."
"When you left there what did you do?"
"We drove up together, or rather we each one--we each drove one car up to Kramer's restaurant at 35th and Cottage."
"Kramer's restaurant at 35th and Cottage Grove?"
"That was on Wednesday, the 21st?"
"Wednesday, the 21st."
"May 21st, 1924?"
"Kramer's restaurant is where?"
"35th and Cottage Grove Avenue."
"What did you do at that time?"
"Had lunch there and put up the side curtains on the rented car."
"About what time was that?"
"I imagine we got here about 12:15."
"What time did you leave there?"
"It must have been one or a little later."
"When did you put up the side curtains?"
"Just before coming, before coming into there to eat."
"After you came out, what time did you come out of there?"
"We left after one."
"Then what did you do?"
"We drove to my home and I put my car in the garage, then we drove over to Ingleside Avenue just south of a blind alley south of 47th Street."
"What time did you put your car in the garage that day?"
"I should say at about one-twenty or one-thirty."
"In the afternoon?"
"And where was the other when you put your car in the garage?"
"The other car was right back of mine because we wanted to fill it with gas."
"In the driveway?"
"You brought that in and filled it with gas, did you?"
"And left your car there?"
"Then what did you do?"
"Then we drove over to Ingleside Avenue, which is south of the alley south of 47th Street."
"While you were filling the car up with gas, did you see anyone around the garage there?"
"I don't remember if Sven came down then or not."
"Did you see Mr. Sven or Mrs. Sven there?"
"Mr. and Mrs. Englund. I am under the impression that Mr. Englund was there. I am not sure."
"You talk about the brakes being bad on that car?"
"Yes, on my car. It was on that occasion that they squeaked, and he put on oil and he warned me about going out after they had been oiled."
"After you filled the car with gas what did you do?"
"I drove to this spot on Ingleside Avenue."
"About what time?"
"It must have been about a quarter to two."
"Then what did you do--you drove where, you say?"
"To a point just south of the alley, south of 47th Street, Ingleside."
"You drove to a point which is south of the alley, south of 47th Street?"
"Yes. I waited in the car."
"What is there, anything?"
"Apartment buildings. I waited in the car there while Dick went through the alley to a place where he could either command a view of Harvard School, or if he saw any likely looking children he could start playing with them. After some time, I should say around three, several of the groups of boys playing in the afternoon with the so-called tutors had left for a vacant lot on 49th and Drexel. We followed them up there, I having made a stop at home for my field glasses in the meantime."
"And what time was that?"
"Around three or three-fifteen and we parked on the opposite side of Drexel Boulevard and watched these children at play. We also sneaked around on foot to the front, behind a lot, where we could observe without being seen. We also had another group of boys spotted in a lot just across the street from my home, 48th and Greenwood. We waited around until a quarter of five, when the gangs broke up, but one of the boys had run down the alley, as we thought merely in play, and would be back. Apparently they had greatly disappointed us. We missed our opportunity of following any of them home. We then went down Lake Park to 41st Avenue, where an acquaintance of Richard Loeb's had a son who might be expected home at that time."
"Do you remember the name?"
"Do you know the address?"
"No, it is Sol Levinson, a lawyer, 41st and Lake Park. We repassed the lot on Greenwood, 48th and Greenwood, came over 48th Street to Ellis--no, we came over 49th Street to Ellis, it was 48th Street to Ellis, and here Dick spied Robert Franks. He was at that time north of 48th Street on Ellis Avenue, on the west side of the street."
"You sure it was on the west side of the street?"
"Positively, walking south on the west side of the street."
"Then you were where at that time?"
"We were at 48th and Ellis."
"On 48th or Ellis?"
"Facing what direction?"
"On what side of the street would that be, on the east side?"
"We were driving down there, we immediately turned around and about the time that we had turned around and given Robert a chance to get a sufficient distance from another pedestrian on the street he was almost at 49th Street. It was here that we picked him up."
"You turned your car and started South on Ellis Avenue, is that it?"
"Yes, south on Ellis Avenue."
"On the west side of the street?"
"On the west side of the street."
"Robert Franks was at 49th?"
"He was almost at 49th."
"Was he on the northwest corner, approximately?"
"You hadn't had a chance to cross?"
"And you drove up alongside of where he was?"
"And what happened?"
"Then Dick opened the front door and yelled, ‘Hey, Bob.' He came over to the car and Dick asked him if he couldn't give him a lift home. He declined, but Dick said, ‘Come in a minute. I want to talk to you about a tennis racket.'"
"That was the time he got into the car."
"Where were you sitting at that time?"
"I was sitting at the driver's wheel. Dick was in the rear seat."
"What time was it, approximately, Nathan?"
"Between five and five-fifteen."
"That was when you proceeded on your journey?"
"You went south then to 50th Street?"
"South to 50th."
"And east on 50th?"
"East on 50th to I believe, Dorchester or Blackstone."
"When was the first time that Richard struck Robert with a chisel, do you know?"
"Between Ellis and Greenwood on 50th."
"Had he become suspicious of anything when you returned for him at that time?"
"No, because Richard asked him if he minded if we took him around the block, to which he replied no."
"That was the original plan, to take him so no one would see him?"
"And after you made this trip out in the country and came back, what time did you get back?"
"Get back to where?"
"To your home?"
"You still had the car that you had rented from the Rent-a-Car Company?"
"Was that the car that you drove your folks home in?"
"What did you do with that rented car?"
"I parked it on Greenwood Avenue just north of our drive way."
"On Greenwood Avenue?"
"On Greenwood Avenue."
"And your had your car in the garage?"
"I got my own car in the garage and drove around to the side it was."
"Then what did you do with your other car when you came back?"
"When I took Dick home--let me see, God, I think they were in my car, because that chisel was thrown from my car, wasn't it? How could that have been accomplished? I am not quite clear on that point. But what he must have done was take the bundle--no, we didn't do that either, because I remember washing the other car."
"That was the car that you rented?"
"Yes, we must have taken the rented car."
"You must have taken the rented car and driven out 50th Street? In other words, that was after you came back?"
"Yes. I was around there until one o'clock."
"That was after you got back?"
"Yes. I was around there until one o'clock."
"Where did Richard wait for you?"
"At my home."
"What did you do with the rented car then?"
"Washed it fairly thoroughly there."
"When, that night?"
"On 50th Street, at the gate to Loeb's."
"What did you wash it with?"
"We found a bucket with some water and a brush and some soap."
"In Loeb's basement"
"Then you came out and washed it?"
"You were unable to get all the stains off?"
"Well, it was at night and we didn't want to be monkeying around too much."
"Where did you take your car to get some of the blood stains off?"
"You drove the car in some place to get some of the blood stains off?"
"No, that was the next day in our garage. It was still Wednesday night you see."
"What did you do with the rented car that night?"
"I drove it back to the place previously occupied, which is just north of our driveway, and stood it in front of an apartment house."
"That was at one-thirty?"
"After you drove your aunt and uncle home in your car and came back what did you do in the house then? Richard Loeb was in the house?"
"Went in and had a few drinks, sat and talked with Dad."
"About what time was that?"
"That must have been about eleven o'clock."
"Then what did you do?"
"Dad retired about eleven-thirty or twelve, and we had a few more drinks and left about one o'clock."
"Did you play cards while you were there?"
"Yes, sir, I think we played two games of casino for fun."
"Well, what did you do after that?"
"We went over to Dick's house with the clothes."
"The clothes in the rented car?"
"And those were out in the rented car all the time?"
"In a robe?"
"In a robe."
"When you got to Dick's house what did you do?"
"We went in the basement and burned the clothes. We intended burning the robe, but it was too large to fit in and would have caused an awful stench. Right after making that phone call to Franks, we were in the rented car, we drove over to Loeb's then in the rented car, burned the clothes, washed the blood stains, then took the rented car to my house and left it there, then I got my car out and took the folks home in that. Then after I got back to my house I still had that car, when I took Dick home it was in that car, and it was then we threw the chisel out."
"When you took Dick home you took the rented car, or your car?"
"My own car."
"What actually happened when you came in the first time?"
"We had disposed of the clothes."
"You had disposed of the clothes in the car?"
"And left the robe hidden in the car?"
"No. I had left the robe hidden in some brush there."
"You mean outside?"
"And Dick had the chisel in his possession?"
"And when you changed cars he just took it from one car to another car?"
"Did he leave that in the car or not?"
"I don't believe so, no."
"Where did he throw the chisel out at?"
"It was over there between 48th and--or between 49th and 50th I think, on Greenwood."
"After you left Richard there and came back, you put your car in the garage, did you?"
"Then what did you do?"
"I turned off the parking light on the parked car and went to bed."
"Then what did you do?"
"The next morning I got up and went to school as usual at eight o'clock. I met Dick at eleven."
"At the University."
"You had made arrangements the night before to meet the next day?"
"Yes, sir, we drove down to my house, and it was then that we drove the rented car to the garage to clean it up more thoroughly."
"In your garage?"
"Outside of my garage, but in my driveway."
"What did you clean up with?"
"With soap and water and some gasoline and a brush."
"Did anyone help you clean it up."
"Sven tried to, but we told him it was all right, that we were all through."
"Was there any remark made then with reference to the blood stains in the car?"
"Yes, Dick was afraid that possibly Sven had seen these blood stains and he said it was some red wine."
"He told the chauffeur that?"
"Who drove the rented car downtown?"
"I drove the rented car downtown."
"And Dick drove your car, did he?"
"Dick drove my car."
"Then you went down, and how much did you pay, do you remember, for the use of the car?"
"This was Thursday, was it?"
"Wait just a moment. We cleaned the car out. I have forgotten where we ate, we stopped some place for lunch and we didn't have my car until we both drove the rented car."
"You didn't have your car at all?"
"No, my car was in the garage and we drove down to the 12th Street Illinois Central Station, and the rest of the account is contained in the previous part."
"With the rented car?"
"When did you return the rented car?"
"We returned the rented car about five or five-thirty."
"How much money?"
"Twenty-five dollars and some cents on it."
"And he gave you the balance of your deposit back."
"You drove the rented car, both of you, to the I.C. Station?"
"Yes, and then drove back south. After we had found that Mr. Franks was not at the drugstore we drove to my house, got my car, and Dick drove my car down, while I drove the rented car down. Dick parked on Wabash Avenue just south of 14th Street while I returned the car."
"About what time was that?"
"Between five-fifteen and five-thirty. When we returned we stopped to get a soda at the drugstore."
"47th and Ellis. I met Mr. Mitchell at that time."
"You had a conversation with him?"
"I had a conversation with him. I took Dick home and on the way back stopped and bought a paper at 48th and Ellis which told about the fact that this boy was Franks and went home."
"Then what happened?"
"I got supper. I stayed at home studying law."
"Did you see Dick the next day?"
"The next day was Friday, yes."
"Was that the time you had the conversation of what you would say in the event you were called in?"
"I am not sure if it was then or not. We discussed that a number of times."
"Prior to the happening or after the happening?"
"Possibly after that. I couldn't be sure."
"You discovered there was a pair of glasses found out there, Nathan?"
"You learned that through a newspaper?"
"Then you and Richard Loeb had some conversation about the glasses and so forth?"
"You contemplated at the time that you would be called in and asked about it?"
"In the event they were found. You never thought they would find the owner of the glasses, did you?"
"No, sir. I did not."
"You were called in by--"
"Captain Wolf." "What did Captain Wolf ask you?"
"Captain Wolf wanted to know whether I had visited the particular area frequently, whether there were many ornithologists whom I knew, or fishermen, particularly among the members of the Harvard School, or its faculty. Also whether the Franks boy had been interested."
"You gave him the information?"
"Did you mention the fact to him at that time that you had worn glasses?"
"He never asked you to produce your glasses?"
"Were you able to remove all those blood stains?"
"Enough so that it was not noticeable?"
"What time was it, Nathan, now, you saw the newspapers announcing that?"
"About six o'clock."
"This chisel that was thrown out of the car by Richard that you told about, Nathan, that had what kind of tape on it?"
"Where did you get that tape from, from home?"
"In the bathroom."
"This was the tape you were telling me about that your brother had in the bathroom when you walked in?"
"Did you take the whole roll of it?"
"Where did you leave the rest of it?"
"We had discussed that, Dick and I, and we think it must have been in the car."
"Did you put tape on near the sharp end or the blunt end?"
"The sharp end."
"Using the head of the chisel, or the blunt end I guess you would call it, for the purpose of--"
"Which end did Richard strike with, do you know? Did he strike with the sharp end or the other end?"
"He struck with the other end. That is why I cannot explain the blood stains. Well, probably the blood was rather effusive."
"You don't know whether it was the other end or not, do you?"
"Yes, I know."
"You know it was the blunt end he was struck with?"
"Where did the chisel come from?"
"From a hardware store between 45th and 46th on Cottage Grove Avenue."
"Who bought the chisel?"
"That same day?"
"No, I think he bought that a few days previously."
"For that purpose?"
"At a hardware store where?
"At 45th and Cottage."
"Do you remember what you paid for it?"
"I think it was seventy-five cents."
"Which one of you bought it?"
"You bought that two or three days before?"
"I think so, yes."
"How did you carry it around with you?"
"As I recollect, we put it in the pocket of the rented car. I think we bought that on the very day, on Wednesday the 21st, I am almost sure of that now."
"The same day?"
"That was the day you went in and got the tape in the house?"
"Now the time you first started to wear glasses was when, Nathan?"
"In October or November, 1923."
"And who was your doctor that prescribed the glasses?"
"And he is located where?"
"30 North Michigan."
"And the one who filled the prescription?"
"How long did you wear the glasses, Nathan, afterward?"
"Until February or March...."