Leopold and Loeb

EMILY: He [Chase] was just telling me that he actually grew up right around the corner from here.
CHASE: … Stone house on the corner.
LORELAI: Oh, the one with the Dobermans.
CHASE: That’s right. Leopold and Loeb.

This refers to Nathan Leopold Jr. (1904-1971) and Richard Loeb (1905-1936), collectively known as Leopold and Loeb. They were two wealthy students at the University of Chicago in 1924, when they kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy named Robert “Bobby” Franks, who was a second-cousin of Loeb, and well-known to both the murderers.

Leopold and Loeb were of high intelligence, and committed the murder to demonstrate their intellectual superiority. They thought they would be able to commit the “perfect crime”, and that their intelligence meant that they could do as they like, even a thrill kill, and claim it as an experiment.

Arrested about a week later, they both confessed to the crime and were represented by the famous defence lawyer Clarence Darrow. The case became a media spectacle, and was billed as “the trial of the century”. Thanks to Darrow’s impassioned pleas, Leopold and Loeb escaped the death penalty and were given a sentence of life imprisonment instead.

Loeb was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1936, while Leopold became a model prisoner who made significant contributions to improving the conditions at Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois. He was released on parole in 1958, married, and moved to Puerto Rico, where he led a blameless life giving an enormous amount to the community in numerous ways – thus justifying Darrow’s defense that the death penalty would give them no chance to rehabilitate.

Chase’s parents obviously had a dark sense of humour when they named their pet Dobermans after two child killers.

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