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Death Sentence

Death Sentence

The Inside Story of the John List Murders




Publish Date

March 11, 2017

Short Description

Intensely religious New Jersey man murders three teenage children, wife and aged mother during a single day in old mansion, escapes into obsurity till he's tripped up 18 years later by a suspicious neighbor in Denver, an elderly widow who simply dislliked him.


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Until 1971, life was good for mild-mannered accountant John List. He was vice president of a Jersey City bank and had moved his mother, wife, and three teenage children into a nineteen-room mansion in Westfield, New Jersey. But all that changed when he lost his job. Saddled with financial burdens, the stress of hiding his unemployment, as well as the fear that the free-spirited 1970s would corrupt the souls of his children, especially his independent-minded 16-year-old teenage daughter, List came to a terrible solution: Wipe the slate clean and start over alone.

In a meandering letter he left behind for his pastor at the crime scene, List claimed that he murdered his wife and children to save their souls, and killed his beloved mother to spare her he anguish of discovering the masscre. List methodically shot his entire family in the home in early November 1971, managing to conceal the deaths for almost a month. Then he vanished into the West, remarried, and started over as Robert P. Clark.


Death Sentence exposes the truth about the accountant-turned-killer, including his revealing letter to his pastor, and his years as a fugitive with a new name and an unsuspecting new wife. He was arrested in 1989.


In prison, List met a sympathetic former CIA operative who helped him write a sanctimonious self-published apologia, "Collateral Damage," in whuich he tried to claim PTSD from a brief period in the Army at the end iof World War II. He consistently referred to the massacre of his fsmily as "the tragedy."


List died in prison in 2008.


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