Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Dartmouth Murders

Telltale Sheaths

At the same time that sleuths researched the Zantops' lives, they examined clues found at the crime scene.

The New Hampshire State Police Crime Lab found two fingerprints on one of the knife sheaths at the Zantop residence but was unable to match them to fingerprints on the FBI file.

Trooper First Class Charles M. West, 42, was assigned the difficult job of tracing the sheaths. Hanover Police Detective Lieutenant Frank Moran worked with West. A Boston Globe article by Mitchell Zuckoff stated that West and Moran "began at the source: SOG Specialty Knives & Tools of Lynnwood, Wash. By Feb. 2, six days after the killings, SOG had supplied New Hampshire authorities with a list of all authorized retailers and distributors, broken down by state."

The pair called and visited SOG stores in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. West surfed the Internet for online sales but this combing produced no leads.

Similar Kydex Sheath
Similar Kydex Sheath

However, West and Moran learned that the sheaths were made of a material called Kydex that had only been used for them since early 2000. This fact allowed a shorter but still daunting list to be drawn up and presented to the investigators on February 12.

Similar SEAL Knife
Similar SEAL Knife

Two days later, they got a big break. West worked down the list and called James Fox, owner of Fox Firearms in Scituate, Massachusetts. Fox said he carried 84 SOG Seal 2000s, but sold only one pair. The buyer was James Parker, who lived in the town of Chelsea, Vermont, about 30 miles from Etna, New Hampshire.

James Parker
James Parker

New Hampshire police officers were in Chelsea the next day.

Book Cover: Judgment Ridge
Book Cover: Judgment Ridge

According to Dick Lehr and Mitchell Zuckoff in Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders, the officers first checked in with Chelsea law enforcement officials, from whom they were surprised to hear that James "Jim" Parker was 16 and not known as a troublemaker. Lehr and Zuckoff continued that when New Hampshire police interviewed the tall, slender, dark-haired youth, he admitted buying the knives for himself and his best friend Robert "Rob" Tulloch, 17, but said they were for building forts. Jim added that the knives were too heavy to be handy so they had sold them to a stranger.

Rob Tulloch
Rob Tulloch

Police interviewed Rob Tulloch. Like his friend, Rob was tall and thin.  His hair was a few shades lighter, his eyebrows thick, and his nose flared at the end. He gave the officers the same account of the knives that Jim had. Investigators had already learned that Rob had shown up at his high school with a cut just above his right knee on the day after the Zantop slayings and asked him about that.  He said he had been in the woods when he walked down an embankment to urinate, slipped, and fell into an old metal maple syrup tap spigot.

 

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