Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Dartmouth Murders

Flashy Starts and Fast Fizzles

Francis wrote that Rob had told junior high school classmates that he wanted to be President of the United States.

Perhaps he believed he was preparing for this ultimate goal when he ran for President of the Chelsea high school student council in 1999.

Lehr and Zuckoff wrote that Rob campaigned with vigor and verve and won an upset victory.

Then came the student council meetings at which the president was supposed to preside over the work of sorting out student issues. Rob had no taste for such routine. He frequently skipped meetings. When there, he sometimes seemed bored and other times imperious.

Perhaps partly inspired by Bill Clinton's impeachment, some student council members tried to impeach Rob. The principal decided impeachment was unnecessary, but Rob was angered by the attempt.

At the same time that Rob was industriously running for, and then desultorily serving as, student council president, he became involved in debating. Lehr and Zuckoff note that he initially impressed his debate coach with his poise and confidence.

However, as Rob debated better opponents, the gaps in his knowledge showed. He would not do the research necessary to assemble well-supported arguments. Unprepared, he frequently ended up simply insulting his opponents.

When cross-examining a debate opponent who was an exchange student from Germany, Rob said, "You're just a German. How can you know?"

There were gasps at the inappropriate, offensive remark.

Although Rob's team had been clearly leading prior to this slur, the debate judge declared the opposing team the winners.

As with his election and impeachment, Rob had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

 

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