Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Men and Supermen: The Nietzsche Syndrome

Callous Disregard

Susanne and Half Zantop
Susanne and Half Zantop

Half Zantop, 62, and his wife, Susanne, 55, were found savagely murdered at 115 Trescott Road in Etna, New Hampshire, by a friend arriving for dinner. It was early evening on January 27, 2001, and the crime stumped those who knew them. Because both were beloved professors at Dartmouth University, no one could imagine who might have stabbed them repeatedly in their study, spattering their books on German and geology with blood. They appeared to have no enemies. Even potentially viable leads about academic rivals and troubled students turned out to have no substance.

It was clear to the police from evidence at the scene that two killers were likely involved. Two large knife sheaths were left behind, one near Half and one under an overturned chair. They seemed unlikely to have belonged to two gentle scholars. Given the amount of overkill involved, the attack did not appear to be random, yet none of the typical ideas about acquaintances panned out. The story is told in issues of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Boston Globe, and in Judgment Ridge, by Mitchell Zuckoff and Dick Lehr.

Key evidence included two footprints left by a particular type of hiking boot and fingerprints on the knife sheaths. Trooper Charles West doggedly tracked down the company that made the knives that fit the sheaths, SEAL 2000 commando-type weapons, tracing them to SOG Specialty Knives and Tools in Washington State. But that company had customers worldwide, and they said that this type of knife was quite popular. After an exhaustive search through lists of dealers, West came across James Fox, a dealer who had sold two knives like that to a Jim Parker, who resided in Chelsea, Vermont, not far from Etna.

On February 15, the police asked James Parker, 16, to give fingerprints and answer questions about his whereabouts on January 27. On the same day, Parker's friend, James Tulloch, 17, was also fingerprinted. When the police seized one of Tulloch's boots to compare to the boot prints from the scene, Tulloch and Parker took off in a 1987 silver Audi. Arrest warrants were issued by the end of the day, charging them with two counts of first-degree murder.

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