In the Footsteps of Killers

Leave it to the University of Chicago to create a pair of Nietzsche-inspired murderers. Nearly eighty-five years ago, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, graduate students at the University, committed the “perfect crime” on the streets of Kenwood, kidnapping and suffocating to death 14-year-old Bobby Franks. The deranged duo was caught soon after the murder, and Paul Durica is happy to tell you what went wrong with their perfect plan.

Durica, the founder of Pocket Guide to Hell Tours and a graduate student in the English Department at the University, draws on his research to lead curious South Siders from the site of Franks’s abduction near the Harvard School at 49th and Ellis to the scene of the murder. “Most of the buildings associated with the murder are gone,” Durica says, but both the Franks house and the Harvard School are still standing. Like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, Durica walks the group through the phases of the crime at various Kenwood landmarks.

The Leopold and Loeb tour will be offered on November 9 and 16. Durica is planning other quarterly South Side historic tours, including “The Working Man’s Guide to the Columbian Exposition,” “The Secret History of the University of Chicago,” and a chronicle of the 1919 race riots.
Following the tour, the appropriately named Backstory Café (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.) hosts a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope,” a film inspired by the Leopold and Loeb case. Hot cider, coffee, and pumpkin bars are available for sale. As Durica would tell you, there’s nothing like murder to arouse your appetite. After all, Leopold and Loeb feasted on hot dogs and root beer on their way to dump Franks’s body.

Spots for the “Crime of the Century Tour” are limited and must be reserved in advance. To secure your spot, contact Durica at All tours are free.

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