The true account of the man who murdered his family in their New Jersey mansion—and eluded a nationwide manhunt for eighteen years.
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 home in Westfield, New Jersey. But all that changed when he lost his job. Raised by his Lutheran father to believe success meant being a good provider, List saw himself as an utter failure. Straining under 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, List came to a shattering conclusion.
“It was my belief that if you kill yourself, you won’t go to heaven,” List told Connie Chung in a television interview. “So eventually I got to the point where I felt that I could kill them. Hopefully they would go to heaven, and then maybe I would have a chance to later confess my sins to God and get forgiveness.”
List methodically shot his entire family in their home, managing to conceal the deaths for weeks with a carefully orchestrated plan of deception. Then he vanished and started over as Robert P. Clark. Chronicling List’s life before and after the grisly crime, Death Sentence exposes the truth about the accountant-turned-killer, including his revealing letter to his pastor, his years as a fugitive with a new name—and a new wife—his eventual arrest, and the details of his high-profile trial.
Revised and updated, this ebook also includes photos.
A detailed journey of a murderer’s life and “rebirth”
I first learned about this book via Parcast’s podcast series Solved Murders: True Crime Mystries. This story was one of the most fascinating. I checked out the book here on Apple. It's a totally different experience from listening to a two part episode. This book has a peculiar organization: Author Joe made List’s crime known at the beginning, yet this approach allowed him to craft a unique story line. The middle chapters (e.g. Chapter 8) were my favorites. They were gruesome, intriguing and fraught with vivid scenes. I look forward to reading Author Joe’s other works.
Always enjoy the writing style of Joe Sharkey
Death Sentance-Story of John List
Well researched. I remember hearing about this terrible incident when it happened. I was 3 years older than Pat and was married in June if 1971. I’m sorry Mr List was caught sooner; he didn’t deserve one second of freedom to start a new life when he had so callously taken the lives of his family. He seems to have chosen certain commandments to follow and ignored those other ones that didn’t suit his outlook. He was like the devil in thinking that no one else had free will to decide their life choices. Only List could decide what anyone could do. So ending their lives ended his responsibility for them. Although he wasn’t very good at providing for them anyway. He wasn’t even in prison 20 years but he’s sure going to be surprised on ‘Judgement Day’. I’ve always wondered what these crazies are going to say to God. Somehow I think they’ll try. But probably not going to go well for them. Good!