Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John List

The Arrest

Two agents checked out the leads that Thursday, June 1. The Clark address was first on the list. Agent Kevin August approached the house and knocked on the door. He heard a vacuum being turned off. A woman opened the door.

"Robert P. Clark?" he asked.

"He's at work," Delores told them.

The two agents asked to come in and speak with her. She invited them in and they showed her the FBI flier on John List. They asked if this could be her husband. She paled noticeably and began to tremble as she tried to read the flier. She admitted there was a resemblance but denied that this man could be her husband. She then began to cry. She offered a wedding photo and when they looked at it, they knew there was no doubt: This was their man.

They asked about the scar, where her husband was from, what he did for a living. It all added up. One agent stayed behind and the other drove off to Bob Clark's place of business, alerting two other agents to meet him there. They entered the offices and saw Bob Clark coming down the hall from the Xerox machine with papers in his hand. He did not look surprised. They identified themselves as FBI and asked for his identification. They asked him several identifying questions, which he answered affirmatively, and then asked if he was John Emil List. "No," he said, without hesitation. His response was too quick, as if he had practiced mentally for this moment. He showed no annoyance or curiosity, which in itself was suspicious.

They searched him for a weapon, and then said, "You're John List, aren't you?" He told them he was Robert Clark. Red blotches broke out on his face. August cuffed him and told him he would have to come to their office for fingerprinting. He passively allowed them to do whatever they needed to do. He never even asked what he was charged with.

Fingerprints proved that List had finally been arrested for the murders of five people, his own family. He requested a court-appointed lawyer, which was denied. He was held without bail. Delores arranged for a lawyer, David P. Baugh, to compose a statement for the press. She repeatedly told reporters and anyone else who would listen that her husband was not John List and had not done these terrible things. He was not capable.

John List at his arraignment
John List at his arraignment

List pleaded not guilty and his bail was set at $1 million. He was remanded into state custody pending an extradition hearing to New Jersey. Surprisingly, he agreed to be extradited, but insisted that he be allowed to go as Robert Clarkthough he had been unable to prove that he existed as Robert Clark before 1971. At the end of June, he was in New Jersey again for the first time since he fled in 1971. He was now eligible for a court-appointed attorney and Elijah Miller was appointed.

Finally someone he knew confronted him: Helen's sister, Jean. She asked him why he had done it and his answer was simple, "Because there was no other way."

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