February 20, 2001

Dartmouth Murder Suspects Apprehended

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Authorities arrested two teenagers wanted in the murder of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop at 4 a.m. yesterday morning in New Castle, Ind.

New Hampshire officials are working with Indiana police to secure the return of Robert Tulloch, 17, and James Parker, 16, to the state, according to Dartmouth President James Wright. The teenagers are being charged with unlawful flight to avoid arrest, in addition to two counts of double homicide.

“Everybody’s very stunned about it, especially the fact that a 16- and 17-year-old could kill two people,” said Andy George, a Dartmouth sophomore. “There doesn’t seem to be a motive, either. We all want more information, and everybody’s very frustrated about it.”

The teens allegedly stabbed the professors multiple times in the head and chest. The bodies were discovered by a dinner guest on Jan. 27.

Tulloch and Parker were questioned by New Hampshire police on Thursday afternoon in their hometown of Chelsea, Vt., an hour drive from Hanover, N.H., where Dartmouth is located. According to Orange County, Vt., Sheriff Dennis McClure, the fingerprints matched crime scene prints.

The suspects are believed to have left Chelsea later that day bound for Massachusetts, where they abandoned their automobile and began hitchhiking. A sheriff’s deputy monitoring CB radio traffic yesterday morning learned of their whereabouts and apprehended them at the Indiana truckstop without incident.

In a campus-wide e-mail yesterday afternoon, Wright stated that “while neither today’s developments nor future proceedings in this case can diminish the pain caused by the loss of Susanne and Half Zantop, we hope that these arrests will bring some measure of relief to the Zantop family and the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities.”

Half, 62, and Susanne, 55, were professors in the Earth Science and German Studies departments, respectively, and had taught at Dartmouth for 25 years. They are survived by their daughters Veronika, 29, and Mariana, 27.

Casey Purcell, a friend of Tulloch’s from Vermont, told the Associated Press that the teenagers left town in the days after the killings, then returned two or three days later.

“In a sense, the tragedy is extended because if these two kids did it, which hasn’t yet been proven, what it tells me is that our society has just gone off the rails,” said Audrey McCullom, a neighbor of the Zantops.

Archived article by Nicole Neroulias