Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John List

And Now for the Children

He now had to wait. The children would not be home for several hours. To pass the time, he went out into his yard, in his suit and tie, and raked leaves. A neighbor saw him, but he pretended not to notice her. Then he made lunch for himself.

The phone rang, startling him. It was Patty. She did not feel well and wanted a ride home. This presented a problem, since List had not planned for it, but he begrudgingly went and picked her up at Westfield High.

Back at home, List hurried to be first into the house. He crouched behind a door, waiting. As Patty entered, he shot her at close range in the back of the head. She fell forward, dying on the floor. List dragged her by the feet down the center hall and placed her on one of the sleeping bags.

List washed up once again and went to run some errands, gathering what money he could and mailing the letters he had written. Those who encountered him later remember how blotchy his face looked as he nervously prepared himself.

Later that afternoon, he picked up young Fred from his after-school job. Once again, he hurried into the house and grabbed his gun from behind the kitchen door. Fred did not have time to even remove his coat. He was dead in an instant from a single bullet to the head. List took him to the ballroom and placed him next to Patty, positioning his head to touch his mother's.

John Jr. was not expected home until after his soccer practice, so List prepared himself to leave as soon as the last of his children was dispatched. At one point, he looked up to see John coming down the driveway, much earlier than expected. List was not prepared, but he dared not let John see the mess in the kitchen.

John came in from the laundry room and spotted his father level a gun at him. He grabbed his father's hand and the bullet that was fired pierced the ceiling. They struggled and two shots went into the floor. Another hit the cabinet and a fifth hit the dining room window frame. John dodged away. The next bullet caught him in the back, behind the neck, and another hit him in the head. He fell and broke his jaw. List fired another, but still the boy was alive. With a gun in each hand, he fired wildly, unmindful of the noise, desperate to kill his oldest son. John crawled across the floor to escape the barrage of bullets from the .22. He turned over, face up, and List fired straight into his son's eye. Still, he was not dead, so List fired again, mutilating his son's body with each bullet. The boy was hit ten times.

Finally, the gun was empty and John lay still. He was dead. List dragged him into the ballroom to place him with the others. He straightened out the sleeping bags and then placed Helen's stiffened arm over Fred. He covered each face with a towel. Then List knelt down and prayed for each one, bidding their souls to depart in peace.

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