10 Real-life Crimes That Became Fictional TV Episodes


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Kill for Thrill
Convicted murderers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb sit in court to hear their sentence handed down by Judge Caverly.
Convicted murderers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb sit in court to hear their sentence handed down by Judge Caverly.
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In the "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" episode "Uncivilized," the investigation of a young boy's murder first leads to a convicted pedophile. However, the true killers turn out to be teenagers with no clear motive.

The episode is based on the infamous case of Leopold and Loeb case in Chicago that shocked the country in 1924. Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, were both brilliant young men from wealthy families. They were also lovers obsessed with the idea that they were above moral law because they each represented the Nietzschean "superman." So, in what was essentially an intellectual experiment, they wanted to conduct the perfect crime. They concocted an elaborate scheme to kidnap and kill a boy, demand ransom and get away scot-free.

After kidnapping and killing 14-year-old Bobby Franks, Leopold and Loeb dumped his body in a culvert several miles outside of the city and dropped a ransom note in the mail. But their "perfect" plan didn't work out. The next day, someone happened to find the body and tell police. A pair of glasses found near the body also linked the crime to Leopold. The boys soon confessed and explained how and why they killed Franks. Leopold explained to one reporter, "A thirst for knowledge is highly commendable, no matter what extreme pain or injury it may inflict upon others" [source: Baatz].

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Sources

  • Alvarez, Rafael. "The Wire: Truth Be Told." Simon and Schuster, 2004. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=ozwbjrf3thIC
  • Baatz. "Leopold and Loeb's Criminal Minds." Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Magazine. Aug. 2008. (March 23, 2011)http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/criminal-minds.html?c=y&page=1
  • Birch, Helen. "Moving Targets: Women, Murder, and Representation." University of California Press, 1994. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=6ZW9ktQ4jF8C
  • Bruno, Anthony. "Real Life Sopranos." TrueTV. (March 23, 2011)http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/gangsters_outlaws/mob_bosses/sopranos/2.html
  • Chermak, Steven M. Frankie Y. Bailey. "Crimes and Trials of the Century." ABC-CLIO, 2007. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=UNex7XqLuiIC
  • Cina, Stephen, J., Josua A Perper. "When Doctors Kill." Springer, 2010. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=eHhtsODHWf0C
  • Dwyer, Kevin, Jure Fiorillo, "True Stories of Law & Order." Penguin, 2006. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=zqLjjThs04QC
  • Dwyer, Kevin, Jure Fiorillo, "True Stories of Law & Order: SVU." Penguin, 2007. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=62uFtPQOegwC
  • Dwyer, Kevin, Jure Fiorillo. Personal Correspondence. March 21, 2011.
  • Oliver, Willard M. Nancy E. Marion. "Killing the President." ABC-CLIO, 2010. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=FNbn8PLx5qAC
  • Ramsland, Katherine. "The Heaven's Gate Cult." TruTV. (March 23, 2011)http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/mass/heavens_gate/1.html
  • Remnick, David. "Is This the End of Rico?" The New Yorker. April 2, 2001. (March 23, 2011)http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2001/04/02/010402fa_fact_remnick
  • Simon, David. "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets." Macmillan, 2006. (March 23, 2011)http://books.google.com/books?id=N8LS0b0_bvUC
  • Simon, David (Interview). "Total Wired." Guardian. January 13, 2005. (March 23, 2011)http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theguide/archives/tv_and_radio/2005/01/totally_wired.html
  • Urbina, Ian. "From Two Broken Lives to One New Beginning." New York Times. August 9, 2007. (March 23, 2011)http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/us/09baltimore.html

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