UMKC School of Law

Killing Was Not For Money

"The motive was to get ten thousand dollars," say they.

These two boys, neither one of whom needed a cent, scions of wealthy people, killed this little inoffensive boy to get ten thousand dollars?

Did they need the money?

Why, at this very time, and a few months before, Dickie Loeb had three thousand dollars checking account in the bank. Your Honor, I would be ashamed to talk about this except that in all apparent seriousness they are asking to kill these two boys on the strength of this flimsy foolishness.

At that time Richard Loeb had a three thousand dollar checking account in the bank. He had three Liberty Bonds; one of which was past due, and the interest on each of them had not been collected for three years. I said, had not been collected; not a penny's interest had been collected,--and the coupons were there for three years. And yet they would ask to hang him on the theory that he committed this murder because he needed money, and for money.

In addition to that we brought his father's private secretary here, who swears that whenever he asked for it, he got a check, without ever consulting the father. She had an open order to give him a check whenever he wanted it, and she had sent him a check in February, and he has lost it and had not cashed it. So he got another in March.

Your Honor, how far would this kind of an excuse go on the part of the defense? Anything is good enough to dump into a pot where the public are clamouring, and where the stage is set and where loud-voiced young attorneys are talking about the sanctity of the law, which means killing people; anything is enough to justify a demand for hanging.

How about Leopold?

Leopold was in regular receipt of one hundred and twenty-five dollars a month; he had an automobile; paid nothing for board and clothes, and expenses; he got money whenever he wanted it, and he had arranged to go to Europe and had bought his ticket and was going to leave about the time he was arrested in this case.

He passed his examination for the Harvard Law School, and was going to take a short trip to Europe before it was time for him to attend the fall term. His ticket had been bought, and his father was to give him three thousand dollars to make the trip.

In addition to that, these boys' families were extremely wealthy. The boys had been reared in luxury, they had never been denied anything; no want or desire left unsatisfied; no debts; no need of money; nothing.

And yet they murdered a little boy, against whom they had nothing in the world, without malice, without reason, to get five thousand dollars each. All right. All right, your Honor, if the court believes it, if anyone believes it, I can't help it.

That is what this case rests on. It could not stand up a minute without motive. Without it, it was the senseless act of immature and diseased children, as it was; a senseless act of children, wandering around in the dark and moved by some emotion, that we still perhaps have not the knowledge or the insight into life to thoroughly understand.