the Perfect Crime
This nurse was with [Loeb] all the time, except when he stole out
at night, from two to fourteen years of age, and it is instructive to read
her letter to show her attitude. It speaks volumes; tells exactly the relation
between these two people. He, scheming and planning as healthy boys would
do, to get out from under her restraint. She, putting before him the best
books, which children generally do not want; and he, when she was not looking,
reading detective stories, which he devoured story after story, in his
young life. Of all of this there can be no question. What is the result?
Every story he read was a story of crime. We have a statute in this state,
passed only last year, if I recall it, which forbids minors reading stories
of crime. Why? There is only one reason. Because the legislature in its
wisdom felt that it would produce criminal tendencies in the boys who read
them. The legislature of this state has given its opinion, and forbidden
boys to read these books. He read them day after day. He never stopped.
While he was passing through college at Ann Arbor he was still reading
them. When he was a senior he read them, and almost nothing else.
Now, these facts are beyond dispute. He early developed the tendency
to mix with crime, to be a detective; as a little boy shadowing people
on the street; as a little child going out with his phantasy of being the
head of a band of criminals and directing them on the street. How did this
grow and develop in him? Let us see. It seems to me as natural as the day
following the night. Every detective story is a story of a sleuth getting
the best of it; trailing some unfortunate individual through devious ways
until his victim is finally landed in jail or stands on the gallows. They
all show how smart the detective is, and where the criminal himself falls
This boy early in his life conceived the idea that there could be
a perfect crime, one that nobody could ever detect; that there could be
one where the detective did not land his game; a perfect crime.