Friends

1924

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Lorraine and Rosalind Nathan in 1924

Lorraine Nathan, 18 years old at the time of the Franks murder, was a one-time girlfriend of Loeb’s. They had met three years previously at an event hosted by Loeb’s fraternity at the University of Michigan. The two began seeing each other and the relationship lasted until June of 1923. This break was attributed both to Loeb’s reckless and immature behavior along with quarrels over his continuing friendship with Leopold, whom Lorraine disliked. Though Loeb resented the break up, the two still occasionally saw each other socially.

She testified for the defense during the hearing and was accused of perjury by the prosecution. After the trial, according to her daughter, she was sent to finishing school on the east coast to “forget” her ordeal. It is unknown if she tried to keep in contact with Loeb after he was sentenced.

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Susan Lurie in 1924

Susan Lurie was a friend of Leopold’s, a girlfriend in his words, and a school friend in hers. She and Leopold met at a dance in February of 1923 while both were attending the University of Chicago. Sue remembers getting lunch regularly with Leopold, conversing in French, dancing, and discussing philosophy. Like Lorraine, she also helped the defense, but was not asked to testify. After Leopold was sent to prison, Sue wrote to him for about a year before stopping abruptly. She married in 1926.

Leopold held her in his mind as an ideal girlfriend despite their short acquaintance, and would remember her with exaggerated fondness in his autobiography. He even attained a picture of her after his release from prison and hung it in his home alongside photos of his family members and close friends.

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Germaine Reinhardt

Germaine Reinhardt was a girlfriend of Loeb’s, and perhaps the most vocal in her support of him even after his confession though they had only known each other for half a year prior to the crime. They went to parties frequently and went out for dancing and waffles a few nights after the murder. She was prepared to be a defense witness, but was not called, likely to prevent another perjury accusation. As happens, she became part of Loeb’s legend, and news reports continued to claim in the years to come that he was still in love with “Patches” or “Bud” as she was said to be nicknamed. It is unknown if she continued to communicate with him after he was sentenced.

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Richard ‘Dick’ Rubel in 1924

Richard Rubel was one of Leopold and Loeb’s closest friends, they were in the habit of eating together three times a week, once at each of their homes. Rubel was considered by his friends as a victim for their perfect crime, but they were unsure if his father would pay the ransom so they soon moved on to less stingy options. Called for questioning because of his close association with the boys, he was released after they confessed. He left the city after their arrest and refused to testify or give them aid. His name was brought up several times in court by Crowe in an attempt to discredit the defense alienists. Crowe argued that if Rubel had spent so much time with the killers, doing the same sorts of things, he may also need to be looked at as abnormal, going by the Defense’s stance on mental abnormality. This argument tended to go nowhere as the alienists had not been able to talk to Rubel and couldn’t give any sort of opinion as to his mental state. Whether he ever tried to contact Leopold or Loeb in prison is not known.

Post-1924

Abel Brown was one of the few people who knew both Leopold and Loeb and preferred Leopold’s company. Abel was a frat brother of Loeb’s at the University of Chicago, but he was concerned with the way Loeb treated the freshman and was annoyed at his incessant talk of crime. He and Leopold were good friends at this time, Brown planned to accompany Leopold on his trip to Europe the summer of 1924, but he ended up going it alone after Leopold was arrested. The two remained in contact on and off after Leopold was jailed, becoming close again in 1952 as Leopold was looking for help getting paroled. Leopold stayed at his home the day of his release from prison and the two often wrote to each other after he’d left for Puerto Rico.

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James Day

James Day, who killed Richard Loeb in 1936, was born in Virginia and had a rather turbulent childhood; his father died before he was born and his mother followed five years later. He was then passed around through a series of relatives and spent much of his teenage years in juvenile detention centers before he was caught robbing a gas station in 1932. He was given a 1-10 year sentence and taken to the Illinois State Reformatory at Pontiac. In mid-1934 he transferred to the Stateville prison where he made the acquaintance of Richard Loeb.

Their exact relationship remains unclear. They were said to have been friendly for a time, and Day was Loeb’s cellmate until they had a fight and Day was moved out. While he later claimed that Loeb hounded him for sex for over a year, it was stated by others that Day had been in a relationship with Loeb and became resentful when Loeb found a new partner. On January 28th, 1936 he killed Loeb with a straight razor and was found not guilty by a jury who ruled that he had attacked in self defense to fend off a rape attempt. He had a bad reputation in prison and was said to be given to hysteria and frequently had sex with other inmates.

In 1941, after nearly completing his ten-year sentence, he was released on parole. He published, or attached his name to, several articles over the years describing what happened in 1936, all of which were different and almost certainty fabricated. In 1965 he was rearrested for threatening an elderly babysitter and three children with a shotgun in another bungled robbery attempt.

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Elmer Gertz

Elmer Gertz, renowned Chicago lawyer and author, came to know Nathan Leopold in 1957 because of his previous friendship with Leopold’s older brother Mike. Gertz was hired by the Lebold family to work on Leopold’s parole case, and in 1958 he was successful in seeing him freed from prison. He stayed in close contact with Leopold over the years, both as a lawyer and a friend. Though he was Leopold’s most frequent correspondent in his later life, due to their dual relationship Leopold could never be completely honest with him.

Gertz reflected on this aspect of his relationship with Leopold in his autobiography: “Though I was one of the two or three men closest to him in the last years of his life, I did not feel that I understood everything there was to know about him. I knew all the facts about externals, and yet the inner truth escaped me.” He became the executor of Leopold’s estate and worked with several researchers and authors studying Leopold and Loeb, including John Logan and Hal Higdon, who would later write about his friend’s life.

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Harold Row in his last public appearance

Dr. Harold Row (pronounced like how) was a man Leopold called “St. Harold of Elgin.” In 1953, when Leopold’s brother Mike was looking for places that would be open to offering Leopold employment in the event he was released from prison, they were told of a small Christian group called the Church of the Brethren. The Brethren, based in Elgin, Illinois, offered many services worldwide and had a hospital set up in Puerto Rico which was always looking for talented people with medical training.

Interested, the family got in touch with the Brethren’s Executive Secretary: Dr. Harold Row. He learned Nathan’s story and met him in prison, accepting his claims of remorse and admiring the man he’d become. He promised that if Leopold was released, he could have a job and lodging at their hospital in Castañer, Puerto Rico. He and Leopold stayed in touch after his release and visited each other yearly when Leopold came to speak at Church of the Brethren conferences, often staying overnight with Row and his wife. Harold died of cancer just months before Leopold did, and Leopold mourned the loss of his good friend in an interview with the Brethren that he gave just two weeks before his own death.

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Father Eligius Weir as he appeared in 1931

Father Eligius Weir was born in 1893 and became a Franciscan Catholic priest who published several books over the years on religion and criminality. Weir worked as the Catholic chaplain at the Joliet-Stateville prisons from 1926-1949 where he made the acquaintance of Leopold and Loeb. Though they weren’t religious, Weir said that the pair would come to talk to him weekly and he was much impressed with their work on the prison correspondence school.

He spoke during Leopold’s parole hearings, but in a way that would not put more blame on Loeb, as Leopold’s lawyer was perhaps angling for. He firmly believed that both men had been rehabilitated and remained friendly with Leopold after his release.

Helen Williams was the Director of the Correspondence Study department at the University of Iowa from 1920-1949. Leopold first came into contact with her when he sent a letter to her university in 1930 looking to take a correspondence course in mathematics. She helped link him to a professor and as the two traded letters about other courses, they began to develop a friendship. When Leopold and Loeb were looking to start their correspondence school, they asked her for advice and over the years she would supply them with textbooks and course outlines. She spoke in his favor at Leopold’s final parole hearing and the two maintained their close friendship through the end of Leopold’s life. Though they were not blood related, he referred to her as his “Aunt Helen” and he in turn became her “favorite nephew”.