John List Murders his Family then disappered for 18 Years - November 9, 1971

Nov 3, 2014 - 0 Comments



by Michael Thomas Barry


This week (November 3 - November 9) in crime history – Serial killer Bobby Joe Long abducts victim who will lead to his arrest (November 3, 1984); Famed gambler Arnold Rothstein was shot & killed in New York (November 4, 1928); Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated (November 4, 1995); U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan kills 13 and wounds 30 at Foot Hood (November 5, 2009); Jewish extremist Meir Kahane was shot & killed in New York (November 5, 1990); The Gunpowder Plot to blow-up the English Parliament was foiled (November 5, 1605); David Hendricks murders his family in Bloomington, Illinois (November 7, 1983); Western gunslinger Doc Holliday died (November 8, 1887); John List murdered his family then disappeared for 18 years (November 9, 1971). 


Highlighted Crime of the Week -  


On November 9, 1971, John List slaughters his entire family in their Westfield, New Jersey, home and then disappears. Though police quickly identified him as the most likely suspect in the murders, it took 18 years for them to locate him and close the case. John List was an outwardly normal and successful father. A Sunday school teacher and Boy Scout troop leader, List was a strict disciplinarian who insisted his children follow extremely rigid rules. 


On November 9, seemingly out of the blue, List shot his mother Alma, his wife Helen, and three children. He then left the murder weapon alongside their carefully laid-out corpses. List had methodically devised a plan so that the bodies would not be discovered for quite a while, cancelling newspaper, milk, and mail delivery to his home in the days leading up to the murder. He then called the children's schools to say that the family was going to visit a sick relative out of town. By the time authorities discovered the bodies, List had vanished without a trace. 


Local law enforcement officials had essentially given up looking for List when the television show America's Most Wanted began airing in the late 1980s. After a segment about the List murders aired on May 21, 1989, calls began flooding in. Although most of them proved to be unhelpful, one viewer claimed that John List was living in Virginia under the alias Robert Clark. Indeed, List had assumed a false identity, relocated to the South, and remarried. In 1989, he was returned to New Jersey to face charges for the death of his family. The following year, he was convicted of five counts of murder and received five consecutive life sentences. 



Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime.  Visit the author's website for more information:   


The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:   

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