Andrew Golden & Mitchell Johnson: The killing spree was carried out with near military precision. Amazingly, the shooters were just 11 and 13 years old.
John Any Bird Bell: The victim was just 12 years old and had his throat cut from ear to ear. His killer was barely two years older.
Christian Fernandez: A toddler is rushed to the ER with horrific head injuries that he will not survive. But who is responsible? Surely it couldn’t be his 12-year-old brother?
Santre Sanchez Gayle: The barely believable story of a 15-year-old hitman and a murder caught on CCTV.
Sheila Eddy & Rachel Shoaf: Two 16-year-old girls decide to get rid of an unwanted friend in this disturbing tale of teenaged friendship gone horribly wrong.
Billy Flynn: Billy has a crush on his high school teacher. How far will he go to win her affection? As far as murder?
Harold Jones: Accused but then acquitted of a brutal child murder, Harold Jones was welcomed back into the village like a conquering hero. Two weeks later he killed again.
Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of
Killer Kids Volume 2
Robert Tulloch & James Parker
On the frigid Saturday morning of January 27, 2001, Professor Roxana Verona piloted her car through the quaint village of Etna, New Hampshire. Professor Verona was on her way to a dinner date at the home of Dartmouth College co-workers Half and Susanne Zantop, who taught Geology and Political Science respectively. The couple, originally from Germany, had been on the faculty of the Ivy League university since the mid-seventies and were popular with staff and students alike.
Professor Verona pulled into the Zantops’ driveway at around 6:30 p.m. Fresh snow had fallen in the last few hours, and she could hear it crunching under her boots as she walked up the drive. Lights were on in the house. Susanne had told her guest that the front door would be left unlocked, so Verona didn’t bother knocking. She turned the knob and stepped inside. Immediately, she sensed that something was wrong. There was no smell of cooking and not a sound from within.
“Susanne?” Verona called out, “Half? Where are you?”
The professor then walked down the hall to the kitchen where she noticed the ingredients for the meal laid out on the counter but no indication that Susanne had started cooking. That was odd. “Susanne? Half?” Verona tried again. Still nothing. Worried now, she set off through the house, looking for her friends. That search took her eventually into the study and it was there that she found them, lying on the floor amidst a scene that resembled something out of a horror movie.
Professor Verona turned immediately and fled, not even bothering to check for signs of life. No one could have survived the loss of that much blood. She charged headlong through the house, almost coming to grief on the slick drive as she fumbled for her car keys. Then she was backing out, over-revving the engine, racing to the home of the nearest neighbor. All of this passed in a flash that she would barely recall later on.
In no time at all, the Zantops’ tidy cottage was taped off as a crime scene. Then detectives and CSIs got to work. Some clues were immediately apparent. There was no sign of forced entry; there was a partial bloody boot print on the wooden floor; two 12-inch-long black plastic knife sheaths lay discarded on the floor, each embossed with the letters SOG. The weapons were nowhere to be found but the sheaths suggested that there had been two knives used in the slaughter. That, in turn, hinted at two killers. Was this a planned murder? A burglary gone wrong? If it was the latter, then the burglars were rank amateurs. They’d left behind jewelry, silver, expensive electronics, and computer equipment. They’d also passed up on the couple’s valuable art collection and their antique books. In fact, the only thing that appeared to be missing was Half’s wallet.
So this was likely not a burglary. In fact, two aspects of the crime pointed to a personal motive. First, the lack of forced entry suggested that the killers had been willingly admitted to the house. Second, the method of murder and the extreme overkill hinted at a rage-fueled attack. The question was, who might have borne such hatred against the popular college professors?
Half and Susanne’s Dartmouth colleagues were certainly no help in this regard. They simply could not fathom why anyone might want to harm the couple. Susanne was described as gregarious, fun-loving and full of energy. She had a zest for life and loved cooking. Often she’d bake cookies for her students. Half was more introverted that his wife, a thoughtful, patient man who friends and colleagues called “Mister Sweetness.” Those same friends said that the idea that anyone might have harbored a grudge against him and Susanne was “preposterous.”
And yet someone had killed the Zantops and done so in such brutal fashion that the entire Dartmouth campus existed at that time under a pall of fear. What if the killers were among them? What if they were even now contemplating their next crime?
Suspects came quick and fast in the early weeks of the investigation. As the person who had found the victims, Professor Verona was briefly considered and just as quickly dismissed. Then there was a local eccentric, a dishwasher who had been fired from a restaurant owned by the college for claiming that college administrators were involved in various conspiracies. In the aftermath of the Zantop murders, this man had posted his own theories online, some of which came dangerously close to the facts of the case. The suspect was tracked to his current residence in South Dakota but was ultimately cleared of involvement.
Not long after, Half Zantop’s teaching assistant pointed out someone he believed might have both motive and opportunity to kill the Zantops. The man was a Dartmouth geology graduate who had expressed a burning desire for a professorship at the university. The person standing in his way was Half Zantop, who currently held the post. This man, too, was investigated and cleared as a suspect.
There were, of course, other avenues being pursued at that time, and one of those yielded a valuable clue. Investigators had lifted a couple of fingerprints from the knife sheaths found at the crime scene, and although there was no match on the FBI database, it nonetheless gave them a reference point if and when they made an arrest.
And the sheaths would yield an even more valuable clue when dogged detective work led investigators to SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, a company based in Lynnwood, Washington. There they learned that the sheaths were from a knife branded as the 84 SOG Seal 2000, a recent addition to the product line with a limited production run to date. The detectives then obtained a list of stockists in New England and began calling on them, eventually zeroing in on Fox Firearms in Scituate, Massachusetts. The owner confirmed that he carried that particular knife and said that he had only sold two of them, both to a man named James Parker. Parker, as it turned out, lived in Chelsea, Vermont, just 30 miles from the Zantop residence in Etna, New Hampshire.
On the surface, this looked like a valuable lead. But just when investigators were getting excited about the prospect of solving the murders, their enthusiasm was dampened. James Parker turned out to be a 16-year-old high school senior with no police record. Checking in with local cops revealed that he had never been in any kind of trouble. When the New Hampshire detectives brought him in for questioning, he seemed surprised to be asked about the knives. He nonetheless admitted buying them, saying that the second knife was for his friend Robert Tulloch. They’d bought them for camping, he said, but had found them too unwieldy and had, therefore, sold them to a stranger.
Rob Tulloch was just as cooperative as his friend. Like James, he agreed to be fingerprinted. He also volunteered to give up his boots and shoes for testing and offered a viable explanation for the cut that had been noted above his eye after the Zantop murders. He said that he’d fallen in the woods and had hit his head on a half-buried metal canister. The police had no reason to disbelieve him. In fact, they were beginning to think that their promising lead was taking them up a blind alley.
But that feeling of frustration only lasted until the following morning. That was when John Parker phoned the police to tell them that his son was missing. A call to Rob Tulloch’s home revealed that he, too, had vanished. It appeared that the suspects had gone on the run, and the reason for their sudden disappearance would soon become clear. Throughout the day, there were reports from the New Hampshire crime lab. First, Rob Tulloch’s boots were matched to the bloody print found in the Zantops’ home. Then, fingerprints from both suspects were matched to those found on the knife sheaths. Finally, after carrying out searches at the boys’ homes, officers found the knives hidden in a cardboard box in Rob’s room. One of them would prove to have Susanne Zantop's blood on it; the other had blood that would be matched to her husband.
A warrant was immediately issued for the teenagers, and a manhunt was launched. That soon turned up Jim Parker’s car, found abandoned at a truck stop. The police also learned that the boys had talked to several truckers, trying to hitch a ride to California. They hadn’t made it that far, but they had managed to work their way to New Jersey where a driver named James Hicks took pity on them and agreed to help. Hicks was only going as far as Indiana, but ,on route, he got on his CB radio to inquire whether there was anyone who could take the boys west.
Unbeknownst to Hicks, the frequency was being monitored by the police. One of the officers, posing as a trucker, offered to give the boys a ride all the way to the west coast. He then arranged to meet them at the Flying J Truck Stop. When they arrived, the police were waiting for them.
Tulloch and Parker were taken to Henry County Jail in New Castle, Indiana, where they were photographed and fingerprinted. They were later transferred back to New Hampshire where, in November 2001, a state court ruled that they would be tried as adults. That rendered them eligible for the death penalty. but prosecutors stated from the outset that they were not seeking that sanction, due to the youthfulness of the defendants. They were, however, facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jim Parker subsequently struck a deal, allowing him to plead guilty as an accessory to second-degree murder in the killing of Susanne Zantop only. The agreement meant a prison term of 25 years to life with parole eligibility in 16 years. All he had to do in exchange was to sell out his buddy.
The plea deal was met with widespread anger in the media and professional circles. Rob Tulloch’s legal team was particularly incensed. In response, they stated their intention to plead their client “not guilty by reason of insanity.”
On December 7, Parker entered his guilty plea as an accessory to second degree murder. Under the terms of the deal, he agreed to reveal the truth about the Zantop murders. The story he told shows a remarkable naïveté. It is all the more terrifying for it.
According to Parker, he and Tulloch had determined that they would not attend college after school, despite having the grades to do so. They decided instead that they wanted to travel and chose Australia as a destination. By their estimation, they would need $10,000 to cover air fares and living expenses for a year. They also rejected the idea of working to raise the money. Stealing it would be faster and easier.
Their initial plan was credit card fraud, and they even went as far as stealing mail from mailboxes to obtain credit card numbers. But once they had the numbers, they didn’t know what to do with them, and so the idea was abandoned. Next, they stole a Honda ATV, hid it in the woods and then tried to sell it online. They even hooked a buyer who offered $3,000. But since they did not have the registration papers, the buyer backed off.
Disappointed, the teens sat down to discuss their next move. It was during those discussions that the idea of robbing and killing people first came up. According to Parker, it was Tulloch who first floated the plan, saying that the experience would stand them in good stead as they could “live as criminals” once they got to Australia. Jim thought that he “made a good point,” and so they started discussing more in-depth plans for their crime spree.
Their idea went something like this. They would trick their way into someone’s house, overpower them and tie them up, and then torture them into giving up their PIN numbers. They’d kill their victim, steal whatever they could from the house and then clear out the victim’s bank account.
Both agreed that it sounded like a workable plan. However, the first homeowner they tried to pull their trick on was suspicious and refused to let them in when they asked to use his phone. This may have had something to do with the fact that the boys were dressed all in black and looked like a couple of commandos.
Undaunted, Tulloch decided to tweak the plan. They would now knock on the door claiming to be a couple of students doing an environmental survey. This, too, failed. The householder said that he was tarring his pool and didn’t have time for them.
On January, 27, 2001, Tulloch and Parker decided to try their ruse again. That was the day that Parker borrowed his mom’s Subaru, and the pair drove to Etna and ended up knocking on the door of a house in Trescott Road, the home of Half and Susanne Zantop. As lifelong educators, the Zantops were only too happy to help a couple of fresh-faced students with their class project. That turned out to be a tragic mistake.
Once inside, Half sat the boys down in the living room while Susanne remained in the kitchen, chopping vegetables for lunch. Tulloch started asking his “survey questions” in a faltering manner, while Parker took notes. But Tulloch hadn’t really prepared for this, and after just a few questions, Half stopped him. He suggested that they really should have put their questionnaire together in a more structured way and offered to set up an appointment for them with someone at the university who could help.
“You really need to be more prepared,” Half chided gently. Little did he know that those words would serve as a tripwire for the volatile Tulloch. He immediately forgot the plan he and Parker had concocted, about tying up their victims and getting their PIN numbers. In a flash, there was a knife in his hand and he was lurching across the room towards Half.
Before the professor could respond, Tulloch was on him, slashing and stabbing in a frenzy of movement. Susanne, hearing the commotion, came running into the room, screaming.
“Slit her throat!” Tulloch shouted to his companion, and Parker immediately complied, jabbing his knife into Susanne’s neck and drawing it across her flesh, severing veins and arteries on its path.
Susanne collapsed to the floor, gurgling sounds coming from her mouth as she tried to breathe. Meanwhile, Tulloch was hacking through Half’s throat, even though his victim was, in all likelihood, already dead. He then crossed the room and walked to where Susanne was trying desperately to stem the flow of blood from her neck wound. The professor who had loved life so much was put to death when Tulloch repeatedly thrust his knife through her skull into her brain. The teenaged killers then dragged the bodies into the study before lifting Half’s wallet and fleeing. The take from their savage double murder was just $340.
In March 2002, Rob Tulloch instructed his attorneys to drop the insanity defense. At his subsequent trial, he entered a guilty plea and accepted a sentence of life in prison without parole. He is currently incarcerated at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord, where Jim Parker is also serving his time. Parker will, of course, be free one day, whereas Rob Tulloch never will.
As for the Zantops, they are sadly missed by their two daughters and by friends and colleagues at Dartmouth. Their only crime was to open their home to two young men who asked for their help. That kindness would condemn them both to a horrible death.
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