Half Zantop was an economic geologist. His
wife, Suzanne, was respected for her studies of German literature.
They were professors at Dartmouth College, and by all accounts
were well-known and well-liked there. On January 27, 2001, they were
stabbed to death in their own home by two high school
students from Vermont - Robert Tulloch and James Parker.
Half and Suzanne
Half Zantop was born in 1938 in Eckernforde, Germany. He earned a
degree in geology from Freiburg University, and then proceeded to
the United States to get a master's degree. He ended up pursuing a
doctorate at Stanford University, where he met a fellow German
student named Suzanne Korsukewitz.
Suzanne was born in 1945 in Kissingen, Germany. After graduating
from high school, she attended the Free University in Berlin,
where she majored in Political Science. She ended up at Stanford to get a political science master's degree.
After Half completed his doctorate, he found work in Latin
America. Susanne happily accompanied him. They were married in
Argentina in 1970. They continued to live and work nomadically, in
a variety of South American countries and even in Africa for a
while. During their travels, Suzanne gave birth to two daughters -
Veronika and Mariana.
After a few years of work in the private sector, Half began
considering an academic career. In 1975, the family moved to
Germany so he could take a position as a research fellow at the
University of Heidelberg. It didn't last long. In 1976, Half was
hired by Dartmouth College, and the family headed to the U.S.
Back in the United States, with her daughters in school, Suzanne
decided she was ready for a career. She earned a master's degree in
comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts, and was
subsequently accepted into a doctoral program at Harvard. In 1984, she got her PhD in German and
Spanish. She was soon hired by Dartmouth to teach German and
The Murders and the Investigation
At the time of their death, Half and Suzanne were living in the
village of Etna, just outside of Hanover, New
Hampshire. It's a wooded, rural, and (if I'm not mistaken) fairly
On January 27, 2001, they had invited a colleague over for dinner.
When their fellow professor arrived around 6:30 pm, she found the
house unusually quiet. Upon further investigation, she also found the
house unusually bloody. Half and Suzanne were lying on the floor in
dark puddles. Their dinner guest fled to the nearest house, where she
and the neighbors called 911
When the police arrived, the found no sign of forced entry. Many
valuable objects had been left in the home. The house was a mess, but
it quickly yielded evidence - bloody footprints and fingerprints,
and 12-inch plastic sheaths that looked as if they might belong to the
A report circulated that Half had been arguing with a student the day
before his death. That student voluntarily went to the police,
submitted to questioning, and was cleared of any involvement in the
murders. A rumour circulated that Half had been having an
extramarital affair. The Boston Globe had to print an apology when
it was found that there was no truth to the rumor (which had appeared
on the Globe's front page).
Somehow, the police traced the knife sheaths to James Parker. They
questioned Parker, who insisted that he and a friend had bought the
knives to help them cut branches to make a fort in the woods and then
sold the knives when they turned out to be too heavy for the job.
Parker agreed to be fingerprinted. Police questioned Parker's friend,
Robert Tulloch, too. He had a suspicious looking cut on his knee,
which he claimed to have gotten in the woods. Slipped and cut himself,
he said. Tulloch also agreed to be fingerprinted.
At about 3 o'clock the next morning, Parker got behind the wheel
of his silver Audi and headed for Tulloch's house. Before leaving,
he wrote a brief note to his parents. At 11:00 am, Parker's father
called the police. By then, the Audi had been ditched at a truck
stop in Massachusetts, and the boys were hitching a
ride across the country with a trucker.
Meanwhile, the police had match fingerprints from both boys to those
on the knife sheaths used in the Zantop slayings and a chair in the
home. The footprints matched too. A warrant was issued for the
arrest of Robert Tulloch on two charges of first-degree murder. It
took a little longer to get a warrant for Parker, who was only 16.
Since the boys had crossed a state line to commit the murders, the
FBI got involved in the case.
The Arrest and the Trials
By the time Parker and Tulloch reached Indiana, the murders were
national news. Police at a Flying J truck stop recognized the boys'
faces, having seen them on television. They questioned Parker and
Tulloch, who became flustered and were unable to think of false names,
birthdates, social security numbers, or hometowns. Oops. They
were arrested and sent back to New Hampshire for trials.
Tulloch pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Parker pled
guilty to being an accomplice to second-degree murder. He admitted
his part in the killings, and planned to testify against Tulloch. On
hearing of Parker's plans, Tulloch abruptly changed his plea to guilty
of first degree murder. During the trials, the story behind the
murders finally began to come out.
For six months prior to the Zantop murders, Parker and Tulloch had
gone to homes and tried to talk their way inside. They planned to rob
residents of their ATM cards, beat the passwords out of them, and
then kill them. They planned to travel to Europe and Australia with
the money they gained from the stolen ATM cards.
In order to gain entrance to the Zantops' house, the had pretended to
be taking an environmental survey. They were clean-cut and polite,
and Half Zantop let them in. Once they were inside, the survey ruse
continued for a while with Tulloch asking questions and Parker writing
down the answers. Then they pounced on the professor and stabbed
him. Hearing the commotion, Suzanne ran into the room from the
kitchen and attempted to help her husband. They stabbed her too, and
then they slit the throats of both Zantops, even though Half was
already dead. They took Half's wallet, which had about $340 in it.
In their haste, they forgot to threaten their victims into revealing
During their separate trials, Parker wept and apologized. Tulloch
said little and showed no emotion. Both of them are now in prison,
Parker for at least 25 years and Tulloch for life without chance of
People expressed surprise (don't they always?) that these two high
school kids would do such an awful thing. "But they were
smart!" "He wouldn't even go hunting with us! He said he
didn't want to kill a deer!" Yeah, right. Things aren't always
what they seem. You'd think people would learn that. But no: you're
never ready for something like this to happen.
Their deaths have left a hole in the community, the depth of which it
is difficult to measure. Like most holes, it gets shallower with time. It would be great to be able to say that something, anything, has changed - that gun control is less popular than ever, or that we're taking teenage mental health seriously. But I don't really think that's true. I think we've all just put our heads back in the sand because we don't like to think about it.