Bobby Franks was age 14 when he was picked up and murdered while on his way home from the Harvard School in Chicago's fashionable Hyde Park district. Franks was a brilliant student at the school. As a member of the Harvard debate team, he had argued against capital punishment. Franks' conduct, however, worried his teachers. On his scholastic record are the notations "too self-satisfied" and "still hampered by unpleasant characteristics."
Franks was the son of Jacob Franks. Jacob made his fortune financing Chicago real estate. He earned the title "Honest Jake" Franks because of his reputation for square dealing.
Bobby Franks knew Richard Loeb, but not Leopold. Franks and Loeb had often played tennis together on the Loeb family courts. Franks was also a distant cousin of Loeb.