Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

Some years ago, my best friend invited me out for dinner at a local diner in Santa Monica.  At the time, I was very broke, and I could use the dinner.  The friend of mine had a steady job with a great salary.  He insisted that I order the most expensive meal on the menu, which at that time was steak and fries.  Afterwards he also suggested that I order desert as well. The waitress that was serving us, I remember, was a beauty.  My friend flirted with her throughout our meal.  As I was scrapping the dish to finish off the pie and ice cream it was then that he told me he had no intention of paying for the meal.

He then told me to follow him out to the parking lot.  But he added “walk slowly.” I followed him out, but before he left the building, he went to the register counter to pick up a tooth-pick.  We got into the car and drove off.   As far as I know, my friend never did this before, and for sure, not with me.  I never brought it up with him why he did this. I just accepted the incident as it happened.  One thing I do know for a fact that I would have never done this by myself.    Also, I felt bad afterwards, especially for the waitress that we stiffed with the unpaid check.  I was concerned that she may be fired or have to pay for our meal.   The odd thing, my friend could care less about her or what he put me through.  We remained friends, but there was a darkness now when we got together, that wasn’t there before.  

Which brings to mind Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. Both were highly intelligent teenagers, that were actual geniuses.  It has been reported that Nathan could speak 27 languages fluently and was a skilled ornithologist.  Richard was equally brilliant and he skipped several grades.  Both met at the University of Chicago, when they were students.  They shared a love for Nietzsche, specifically his theory on the Superman, which many believe meant that a superior minded person could rise above the laws and rules that bound the average man.  Therefore why not plan a perfect murder?   With that in mind the 19 year old and 18 year old planned their version of the perfect crime, which is tantamount to kidnap and kill a young boy.  

It was a criminal offence not for money, because both students were filthy rich, but just for the purpose of getting away with something or the thrill of it all.   They selected a 14-year old boy by the name of Bobby Franks, the son of Chicago millionaire Jacob Franks, as their victim.   It seemed that Richard knew Bobby well, because they often played tennis together.  Nevertheless both teenagers enticed Bobby to get in the car with them, where one of them (we’re not sure which one) hammered little Bobby’s head in.  Afterwards they drove to Wolf Lake in Hammond, where they dragged the corpse in the wilderness and poured hydrochloric acid over his naked body. Specifically to destroy the features on his face and genitals.  They left his clothes on the side of the road, and then went back to the city.  Once there, they wrote a ransom note on a stolen typewriter and sent it to the family to let them know that their son was kidnapped.  Once the body was found, Richard and Nathan destroyed the typewriter and were feeling secure that nothing could be traced to them.   In fact, Richard hung out with the detectives, inquiring about the case, as well as giving his own spin, like everyone else in Chicago, to the crime as well.  He was quoted as saying to one of the detectives “If I were to murder anybody, it would be such a cocky little son of a bitch as Bobby Franks.” 

The downfall of the two happened when the police found a pair of glasses not far from the body.  The glasses themselves were not that unusual, except it was equipped with a hinge mechanism, that the police found only three people purchased in the Chicago area.  One of whom was Nathan Leopold.  He was picked up and interrogated by the police.  Nathan claimed he knew the area, because of the interesting species of birds in that specific area.  He said that he lost his glasses while bird watching and what happened was that he tripped and it must have fallen from his jacket pocket.  The police asked him to demonstrate how he fell, and please demonstrate how the glasses fell out on the brush.  He did so, but of course, the glasses never fell out of his jacket pocket.  Eventually suspicion of the two friends became greater and greater.  Also the fact that they were Jewish, wealthy and perhaps gay, had a lot to do with the national press attention as well. 

The trial of the century took place and both were convicted of murder.  What is interesting to me about the case is not the murder itself or their background as wealthy boys, but the fact that they felt superior to everyone else due to their intelligence.  Like myself, I was shocked that I actually left a restaurant without paying, and therefore became a fellow criminal.  I would have never done that, unless my friend put the idea in my head.  But I did do it, even though I had no money on me to foot the bill.   It was a moment’s decision to do something immoral in my point of view.  The fact that I crossed that line, has affected me to this very day.   Although I haven’t murdered (yet) anyone, I can understand what Nathan and Richard went through.  To be honest, I don’t think they even cared that they were caught and sent to prison, the fact is that they needed to be in a moment where they felt alive and against the world.   The sin, if there is one, is the thrill one gets from doing something terrible.  Not everyday, but numerous times, I still feel bad about the waitress that we left with the unpaid check at the diner in Santa Monica. 
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