For the Thrill of It

Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating (if not slightly morbid) article about a 1924 kidnap and murder of a 14-year-old boy in Chicago by two young, wealthy, and deranged men. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb botched a scheme to kidnap and murder one of Loeb's cousins while extorting ransom money from the boy's father, and their trial gripped the city - indeed, the country - while a prominent prosecutor of the day battled with attorney Clarance Darrow between the death penalty and life imprisonment.

The article gave the impression that Darrow fought more for preventing another execution than for the defense of his clients, and his quote after the trial seems to feign disappointment at the "loss" of his case:

Well, it's just what we asked for but...it's pretty tough....It was more of a punishment than death would have been.


While the piece has been unfortunately paginated its window into early 20th century culture is worth the read.