That's a Bad Sign

The Springfield Three and family annihilator John List

January 07, 2021 Emily Winchurch & Liz Mahoney Season 1 Episode 20
That's a Bad Sign
The Springfield Three and family annihilator John List
Chapters
1:40
Murder start
That's a Bad Sign
The Springfield Three and family annihilator John List
Jan 07, 2021 Season 1 Episode 20
Emily Winchurch & Liz Mahoney

For nearly 27 years family, friends and law enforcement have tirelessly tried to find out what happened to friends Suzanne "Suzie" Streeter and Stacy McCall, and Streeter's mother, Sherrill Levitt, who went missing from Levitt's home in Springfield, Missouri. Then we examine the life and crimes of John List. He was an your average guy - accountant and family man... until he shot his three children, wife and mother. After being on the run for 18 years, we dive into the tactics that finally put this man behind bars.

Sources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Three
https://www.ky3.com/content/news/The-Springfield-Three-A-look-back-at-the-cold-case-28-years-later-571085741.html?fbclid=IwAR1eQxS5Tnv_4cX5RYjuBNy9tgPZJung0PXOs7TJvlUXOetDObVytMCfWrM
https://people.com/crime/where-are-the-springfield-3-inside-the-case-that-has-baffled-family-and-police-for-27-years/
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7605791/Police-reveal-new-leads-1992-case-Springfield-Three-two-teens-mom-vanished.html
https://delanirbartlette.medium.com/john-list-he-committed-the-almost-perfect-murder-4a30ad9199b9
https://allthatsinteresting.com/john-list
https://criminalminds.fandom.com/wiki/John_List
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1989-06-04-8902060636-story.html 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/badsign)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

For nearly 27 years family, friends and law enforcement have tirelessly tried to find out what happened to friends Suzanne "Suzie" Streeter and Stacy McCall, and Streeter's mother, Sherrill Levitt, who went missing from Levitt's home in Springfield, Missouri. Then we examine the life and crimes of John List. He was an your average guy - accountant and family man... until he shot his three children, wife and mother. After being on the run for 18 years, we dive into the tactics that finally put this man behind bars.

Sources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Three
https://www.ky3.com/content/news/The-Springfield-Three-A-look-back-at-the-cold-case-28-years-later-571085741.html?fbclid=IwAR1eQxS5Tnv_4cX5RYjuBNy9tgPZJung0PXOs7TJvlUXOetDObVytMCfWrM
https://people.com/crime/where-are-the-springfield-3-inside-the-case-that-has-baffled-family-and-police-for-27-years/
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7605791/Police-reveal-new-leads-1992-case-Springfield-Three-two-teens-mom-vanished.html
https://delanirbartlette.medium.com/john-list-he-committed-the-almost-perfect-murder-4a30ad9199b9
https://allthatsinteresting.com/john-list
https://criminalminds.fandom.com/wiki/John_List
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1989-06-04-8902060636-story.html 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/badsign)

Liz: [00:00:00] Hey guys, you're listening to, that's a bad sign. I'm Liz 
Emily: [00:00:03] and I'm Emily. And this is episode 20 
Liz: [00:00:06] episode 20. I'm so impressed with us. 
Emily: [00:00:08] I am too. I didn't think we'd make it this far. I 
Liz: [00:00:10] didn't either, but we're cruising right through. 
Emily: [00:00:13] So to kick off recommendation corner, I am going to start with the new Shonda Rhimes Netflix series called Bridgeton.
And it's like gossip girl of high society of the 18 hundreds. Absolutely nothing true crime related. But if you're, you know, doing a true crime binge and you need something lighter, I highly recommend the show. I finished it with my sister. And I'm like six hours. Oh, there's eight episodes an hour each. So it took us eight hours.
So there's my recommendation for this week. 
Liz: [00:00:43] I love the idea, gossip girl in the 18 hundreds, that sounds like amazing. 
Emily: [00:00:47] And everything was a scandal. Like if you kissed a man and somebody saw that was the talk of the town. So you can imagine there was a lot more drama. 
Liz: [00:00:56] My recommendation today is going to be for everyone to go watch the sound of music.
So random, but my family and I watched it over the holiday break and it's just great. I mean, Julie Andrews is incredible. 
Emily: [00:01:11] So funny. You mentioned that because in Britain, the, I don't know if I'm saying it right. Sorry. The show I recommended the narrator's voice is actually Julia Andrew's voice. 
Liz: [00:01:21] That is so random.
Emily: [00:01:23] I know. So we have somewhat of a connection and how weird, 
Liz: [00:01:27] well, We love you, Julie 
Emily: [00:01:28] Andrews. We do 
Liz: [00:01:30] well on that note. 
Emily: [00:01:31] Cheers.
Liz: [00:01:40] all right. So you know that I love an unsolved case. 
Emily: [00:01:43] Yes you do. So this week 
Liz: [00:01:45] I'm going to cover the story of the Springfield three. 
Emily: [00:01:48] Okay. Okay. I'm ready. 
Liz: [00:01:50] My references include Wikipedia. K Y three.com. people.com. And the daily mill. Okay. So June six, 1992 was graduation day for Kickapoo high school in Springfield, Missouri.
Emily: [00:02:06] Kickapoo 
Liz: [00:02:06] I know was like, I was like, this is going to be up in the first line of my story yet. I'm trying not to laugh, but it's just a funny name 
Emily: [00:02:13] that is funny. 
Liz: [00:02:14] So as would be expected, there were a bunch of graduation parties happening in town with all the kids celebrating, being done with high school.
Emily: [00:02:20] Okay. Of course. 
Liz: [00:02:21] I feel like we had a hundred graduation parties on the actual day of graduation. Two of the grads were Susie Streeter and Stacy McCall, and they had been going to a bunch of parties and then they planned to stay the night at their friend Janelle's house. When Susie and Stacy left their last graduation party, it was around 2:00 AM and they drove to Janelle's house.
But when they got there, they decided the house was too crowded. I guess there were like a bunch of people staying over. 
Emily: [00:02:46] Yeah. 
Liz: [00:02:47] Um, maybe there was nowhere else to sleep. I don't know, but either way they decided they were going to just go sleep at Susie's house instead. 
Emily: [00:02:54] Uh, what year was this? 
Liz: [00:02:55] 1992. Okay. So the next morning at around 9:00 AM Janell and her boyfriend went over to Susie's house.
I guess they had all planned to spend the day at a water park and they were supposed to leave from Janelle's house. So Suzy and Stacy were supposed to go to Janelle's so that they could all drive together, 
Emily: [00:03:12] but they opted out of sleeping there cause they thought it was too crowded. 
Liz: [00:03:15] Right. So they said, basically, we'll come back tomorrow morning and we can all go to the water park together.
Emily: [00:03:20] Oh, I remember this story now. So 
Liz: [00:03:22] they never showed up. And I guess it was past the time that they were supposed to leave for the water park. So Janell and her boyfriend went over just to see what was going on. When they got there, Janell found the door of the house unlocked. So she went into the house and she didn't find Stacey Suzy or Susie's mother's Sheryl inside.
Emily: [00:03:39] Yeah. 
Liz: [00:03:40] Also all three of their cars were outside. So it's not like they had taken the car anywhere. Suspicious. The family dog, a Yorkie named cinnamon was in the house. And Janell said that the dog appeared agitated. Oh, which is sad. Yeah. While she was there, the house phone rang and Jenelle answered it to see if it was maybe one of the girls.
Um, but instead it was a, an unidentified male and she described the call as strange and disturbing because the person on the other line was making sexual innuendos. What? So this obviously freaked her out, so she hung up the phone and then another call came through immediately. So she picks it up again and it was the same man.
And he was continuing to say these sexual things. So she hung up again. And that was at, but just like very, very odd, 
Emily: [00:04:28] so strange. So she walks into the house and nine, the two calls come. 
Liz: [00:04:33] Exactly 
Emily: [00:04:34] coincidence. I don't think so. 
Liz: [00:04:36] And I also want to point out that Janell said that the glass of lampshade on the porch light was shattered.
Emily: [00:04:41] Okay. That's weird. 
Liz: [00:04:42] At some point Janell and her boyfriend left. I don't know if they just figured, I don't know. I don't know what she figured, but she left and she wasn't, I guess, super 
Emily: [00:04:50] concerned. She wasn't concerned. 
Liz: [00:04:52] No, I mean, I'm sure she was like minor league turn, but what do you really think? Like it's the two girls and the moms and maybe they were off somewhere together.
Yes. Weird that the cars were there, but who knows if someone picks come up? I don't know. 
Emily: [00:05:03] Yay. Yeah. A few hours 
Liz: [00:05:04] later. Stacy's mother Janice McCall went over to the house as well, because she had been trying to get in touch with her daughter over the phone and she hadn't been able, 
Emily: [00:05:13] Oh my God. 
Liz: [00:05:15] So she also goes inside the house because she finds the door on the act.
And she notices that the purses of all three women were sitting on the living room floor. She also noticed that her daughter's clothing that she had been wearing the night before was folded, neatly in a pile. So to me, that means she had changed into her pajamas. 
Emily: [00:05:31] Yeah. 
Liz: [00:05:32] So Janice has really freaked out at this point, obviously because her daughter and then her daughter's friend and the mother are nowhere to be found, their purses are there.
Their cars are there. Something's wrong. So Janice calls the police from the house to report all three women missing. After she called the police, she checked the house's answering machine to hear, you know, to check if anything, any clues around there. And she heard a quote, strange message. This message was accidentally erased at some point during the investigation, which is so infuriating, but the police have said that they thought it was very interesting and believed it may have contained a clue.
Emily: [00:06:07] But do we know who we don't know anything? 
Liz: [00:06:10] There's no information anywhere. I looked all over the internet. 
Emily: [00:06:14] That is so frustrating. 
Liz: [00:06:16] I know. And I was thinking that it was probably linked to the same guy that had been calling earlier when Janell was there. But the police say they don't think that the two are linked.
So I don't know. 
Emily: [00:06:25] That's even crazier. Yeah. Wow. Oh, I hate that. You told me this is unsolved 
Liz: [00:06:31] so sad. It's so frustrating. By the time Janice had actually called the police. It had been more than 16 hours since any of the women had last been seen because the last time they were seen, it was 2:00 AM when they left the last graduation party.
So obviously as we know, some of their friends and family had been concerned, so a couple different people had to come over to the house to see what was going on, to see if they were there. So the police estimate that the crime scene, okay. The house had been contaminated by between 10 and 20 people. What 
Emily: [00:07:01] amateurs.
Liz: [00:07:02] I know it's I feel like you go there, you see something's wrong. Call the police, get out. 
Emily: [00:07:08] Yeah. Don't touch anything. 
Liz: [00:07:10] So when the police did their investigation of the house, they found no signs of a struggle. Aside from that broken porch light, which is weird. Like that to me doesn't even really mean anything.
Emily: [00:07:21] Well, I mean, if someone walks in with a gun, there's not going to be a sign of struggle. Right. Like you're just going to stand there and do what the person 
Liz: [00:07:26] says. Yeah. And they also know that it looks like. The mother's bed had been slept in. So whatever happened probably happened in the middle of the night, because like I said, it seemed that, um, Stacy had changed into her pajamas, 
Emily: [00:07:40] but no one has heard any, no one heard anything.
No. Now the neighbors that's insane. 
Liz: [00:07:45] Yeah. So all of the women's personal property had been left behind, including their purses, money, keys, cigarettes, and the dog. Obviously you don't go somewhere without your purse, your money. Anything like that. 
Emily: [00:07:59] Yeah, obviously. So there were 
Liz: [00:08:01] extensive searches done for the missing women in the next few days and weeks, but nothing was ever found.
And there were not even any leads to go on 
Emily: [00:08:10] three women cancers disappear out of thin air. 
Liz: [00:08:13] Literally someone has to know something, 
Emily: [00:08:15] someone has to know something. 
Liz: [00:08:18] Okay. So nothing really has come of any of the searches. So about a year and a half later on December 31st, 1993. A man called the hotline for America's most wanted claiming to have information on the women's disappearances.
But when the switchboard operator tried to connect him with the Springfield police department, the call somehow got disconnected. 
Emily: [00:08:39] Do we think he hung up? 
Liz: [00:08:41] I don't know, but the police say that this man had quote prime knowledge of the abductions and they even made public pleas for him to please come forward again.
But he never did. 
Emily: [00:08:51] Oh my God. Yeah. 
Liz: [00:08:53] So it's like. How many things can go wrong in this investigation? Like the message getting accidentally deleted this phone call dropping off. Come on. 
Emily: [00:09:02] Oh, so in 
Liz: [00:09:03] 1997, this is what five years later, Susie and her mother Cheryl were declared legally dead by Cheryl's sister, though.
Their cases are still officially filed under missing Janice McCall still refuses to declare her daughter Stacy dead. And I love this quote. She says, they're going to have to find some remains somewhere before I call her legally dead. It's not for any reason other than if I do, and she's not dead. Think of how mad she'd be when she gets back.
I just loved that. I love that. Okay. So that same year, 1997, a man named Robert Craig Cox, who was a convicted kidnapper and bank robber. And the suspect in a Florida murder investigation told journalists that he knew that the three women had been murdered and buried. And he claimed that their bodies would never be found what 
Emily: [00:09:51] a 
Liz: [00:09:51] Dick.
So in 1992, when the women went missing, Cox had been living in Springfield and he had actually been interviewed by the police during the investigation as well. But he claimed that he had been at church with his girlfriend that morning bullshit, and she corroborated the story. However, she later admits that she lied in that Cox had asked her to say that, 
Emily: [00:10:11] Oh my God, he did it.
He did it. 
Liz: [00:10:13] Cox also claimed that he had been at his parent's house the night before the disappearance. And they corroborated that story, but it's his parents. So, I mean, yeah, 
Emily: [00:10:21] they're lying. 
Liz: [00:10:22] Exactly. So obviously the authorities look into this, but they're not sure if Cox really had something to do with it, or if he's just trying to take credit for it.
He also said that he would disclose what happened to the women once his mother died. But I don't know if that has happened yet or not, but regardless he's in prison. 
Emily: [00:10:38] Wait, what's he in prison for something else? 
Liz: [00:10:40] Yes. Yeah. He was actually convicted of that murder that I was talking about 
Emily: [00:10:44] the one in Florida.
Oh, 
Liz: [00:10:45] okay. And then at some point, I'm not exactly sure when, um, investigators received a tip that the women's bodies were buried in the foundation of the South parking lot at Cox hospital. And in 2007, a crime reporter named Kathy bird asked a mechanical engineer named Rick Norland to scan the parking garage, but something called a ground penetrating radar.
Emily: [00:11:06] Yeah, I've heard of that. 
Liz: [00:11:07] So Norlan does this and he says he finds three quote anomalies. That were all roughly the same size. And he said they were consistent with a quote grave site location. Two of these anomalies were parallel on the other was perpendicular. Now to me, I was like, this has to be it.
Yeah. But the police have said that the person who reported the tip quote provided no evidence or logical reasoning behind this theory, 
Emily: [00:11:33] maybe this person's a medium. Well, 
Liz: [00:11:36] exactly. This person actually claimed to be a psychic. 
Emily: [00:11:38] Yes, 
Liz: [00:11:39] it was either. They said someone who claimed to be a psychic or someone who said they had a dream about the situation.
Emily: [00:11:44] I believe it. 
Liz: [00:11:45] I know. I feel like you can't discount it, but I mean, I get it. Cause the police say it would cost a ton of money to dig up this site and they have no reason to really believe that this person had any logical evidence. They also claimed that the construction for this parking garage began in September of 1993, which was over a year after the women went missing.
Emily: [00:12:06] Okay. But someone could have hid the bodies in a freezer. 
Liz: [00:12:10] Yeah. That's what I was thinking. Or he held them captive somewhere. I don't know 
Emily: [00:12:14] also. So let's say this person, this. Psychic or medium was at a diner and overheard somebody, but she didn't, you know, realize it, it was what's it called her subconscious and then her subconscious is telling her, so yeah, she thinks it's a dream or a vision it's really her subconscious.
So I think we should pay attention to it. 
Liz: [00:12:31] I agree. So the, so I've received over 5,000 tips from the public on this case. And just last year they said they still get several tips every single week. 
Emily: [00:12:41] Oh, my God. 
Liz: [00:12:43] It's now been 28 years since the women have disappeared on the family and still have to live with the fact that they have no idea what happened to their loved one.
Emily: [00:12:50] Do you have any theories? 
Liz: [00:12:52] Well, of course, I had to go on Reddit and see what the internet sleuths were thinking. 
Emily: [00:12:56] What do they think? 
Liz: [00:12:58] So one person said a man could have used a ruse to get an access to the house. For example, pretending to be some sort of utility worker, like maybe telling them there was a gas leak or something.
Um, but I think that's weird because there's no evidence of a struggle, but like you said, if the person had a gun it's pretty easy to control three people. If you are the one holding a gun. Yeah. This one I thought was interesting as well. Apparently there was another person of interest named Steve Garrison and he's in prison for a different crime also.
But this person told someone that one of his friends had admitted to killing three women while he was drunk at a party. Like he told the story while he was drunk. 
Emily: [00:13:33] Oh. So 
Liz: [00:13:35] the police did look into this and it led to a search of a site in Webster County, but nothing came of it. 
Emily: [00:13:41] I'm sorry. What type of party are people at that it's okay to just mention that you murdered.
Liz: [00:13:45] I know like, obviously more than one person probably had to have heard that 
Emily: [00:13:49] I cannot fathom. A party like that? No, you had a story like that's being told 
Liz: [00:13:55] definitely a bad crowd. 
Emily: [00:13:57] That's an understatement. So the questions that remain 
Liz: [00:13:59] are like, how could someone have transported all three women from the house to a vehicle seemingly against their will without arousing any suspicion or attracting any attention and how were they able to keep them subdued in the car and drive the car without them trying to escape.
Emily: [00:14:18] And nobody hearing anything. 
Liz: [00:14:20] Exactly. And why have the police put forward almost no information in 28 years? Like it's really strange. You would think that they would have some clues. 
Emily: [00:14:30] Can they see who the caller was? Who the original friend who heard the two random or the man with the two random calls? 
Liz: [00:14:38] I don't know because this was in the early nineties, so I'm not sure how advanced the technology was, but that being said.
It is 2020. Our technology and DNA evidence is so much greater. Now. It's crazy that nothing has come of it. 
Emily: [00:14:51] That's so sad. 
Liz: [00:14:53] This theory I thought was interesting too. The cop car theory. So this internet detective decided if a cop came to the door and went into the house claiming, I don't know, he had a search warrant for something or.
I don't know really anything a cop said, I might believe, 
Emily: [00:15:12] especially in the nineties, people didn't necessarily know their rights. 
Liz: [00:15:14] Exactly. So if he went into the house, pulled a gun on them and then walked them to their, to his car, they would have no struggle obviously. And they would have no opportunity to grab any of their belongings, like they're all in their pajamas.
So I think that's an interesting theory. Do I necessarily believe it? I don't know, but. That's a good 
Emily: [00:15:33] thought. Well, so the police doing the investigation would never come forward and say, we think it's a cop. 
Liz: [00:15:39] Exactly. So that's why they're saying it's interesting that the cops haven't released any information at all.
Emily: [00:15:45] I mean, I know we can't just jump to conclusions, but. I think that's a really interesting theory. 
Liz: [00:15:50] Yes. So I've two more theories here. Ooh. One is that two people are actually involved and one of those people was a woman. So the woman would go to the door saying, I don't know, can I use your phone or my car, my car broke down.
And you would be more inclined to trust a woman. 
Emily: [00:16:05] Yes, obviously. 
Liz: [00:16:06] And then somehow I don't know a partner was involved and, um, 
Emily: [00:16:10] I agree, but what is the point of that? 
Liz: [00:16:12] I don't know. There's no motive 
Emily: [00:16:16] straight. It's a weird 
Liz: [00:16:17] crime. 
Emily: [00:16:18] It's a weird crime. 
Liz: [00:16:20] And my, the last theory I have, well, I didn't come up with it is that Larry Hall, who was a serial killer.
He traveled the country in a dark van, and apparently there was a dark van, mentioned the investigation here. He may have been in the area at this time. And he also apparently admitted to having abducted and killing three women from Springfield. So I have to imagine that the cops investigated this because why wouldn't they just want to be like case closed?
Yeah. So that's the only reason I'm a little bit wary of it, 
Emily: [00:16:51] but where is he now? 
Liz: [00:16:53] I think he's either in prison or dead, but I think what I read that was that he. Was responsible for killing 40 or 50 people. 
Emily: [00:17:00] I wish he would just admit to it, you know? I know, 
Liz: [00:17:02] but that's why this case is so frustrating. 
Emily: [00:17:05] It makes me so angry.
Liz: [00:17:07] I know it's just horrible. It's been almost 30 years and these families have no idea what happened to their loved ones 
Emily: [00:17:13] and to not know where the bodies are. That's yeah. Horrible. 
Liz: [00:17:17] Horrifying. Well, that's my story. 
Emily: [00:17:20] You love your cold cases. 
Liz: [00:17:22] I know. I really do. I 
Emily: [00:17:23] guess I am not the same, but I appreciate, I think you did a great job.
Liz: [00:17:26] Thank you very much 
Emily: [00:17:27] now we'll cheers to that. 
Liz: [00:17:29] Cheers.
Emily: [00:17:38] and we're back. 
Liz: [00:17:39] We're back. Why am I always thinking I don't get it. 
Emily: [00:17:42] We switch off and on like, sometimes I'm singing and sometimes you're singing. I'm trying to 
Liz: [00:17:46] keep things interesting. Should we 
Emily: [00:17:47] harmonize, sorry. Nope. Nope. Nope. 
Liz: [00:17:50] Moving on. That's a good way to lose listeners. 
Emily: [00:17:55] So I am doing the story of John lest and my sources include a medium article that was written by Delany near Bartlett, which, uh, she's.
A true crime author and she's awesome. Uh, all that's interesting.com criminal minds.fandom.com and the Chicago Tribune. All right. No Wikipedia 
Liz: [00:18:19] second week in a row. Proud of you. 
Emily: [00:18:21] All right. So my story takes place on November 9th, 1971 in Westfield New Jersey, where a 46 year old accountant named John list murdered his whole family.
Liz: [00:18:34] Oh God. 
Emily: [00:18:35] So I did this story for two reasons. One, this is a family Annihilator story. So for people who don't know what a family Annihilator is, Liz and I actually covered. This topic when we guest starred on the murder murder news, YouTube channel. 
Liz: [00:18:51] Oh yes, we did. 
Emily: [00:18:52] They did a Halloween special and Liz and I told a family Annihilator story.
And essentially, if you don't know what a family Annihilator is, it's one, a man murders, his whole family, and sometimes he lives or sometimes he commits suicide and they're usually two types of family. Annihilators. One is just a abusive man who has. Harmed his family over a period of time then usually takes it too far and murdered his family.
And then the other type of family Annihilator, which I think is more scary is when a man has no history of violence, but usually a financial ruin or debt or going into bankruptcy causes this man too. Lose w what's the word I'm looking like, lose his mind. 
Liz: [00:19:36] I was going to say his mind 
Emily: [00:19:37] and he thinks the only way to get out of this and for his family not to face the consequences of his failure is to murder them.
And usually people are so surprised because this person has no violent history or past. So we actually had a family Annihilator in our town when we were in high school. I'm not going to go into it. 
Liz: [00:19:58] Yeah. Let's skip that details there. 
Emily: [00:20:01] I'm not going to get into that because it was pretty heavy. But I feel like since high school, where that happened in our town and we'll do it on another episode, I feel like I've paid a lot of attention to family and highlighters.
Cause I think they're insane, 
Liz: [00:20:11] especially the, you know, nice guy with the financial hardship type. 
Emily: [00:20:16] Uh, so that's one reason. And the second reason I chose this was because my second cousins were this guy's neighbor. 
Liz: [00:20:24] Well, Oh my God. 
Emily: [00:20:25] Yeah. Okay. Let me backtrack. My mom says that. So maybe they lived down the block.
Maybe they live in the same town. I don't know if you asked my mom, she says that her cousins. So my second cousins were John list's neighbors, all believer. So I want to give a little background about John and his life leading up to the events that happened. His wife was Helen and he met her after college and she was recently divorced and she already had a child and they were sleeping together.
And then she told them that she was pregnant and he was Lutheran and he obviously thought, okay, you know, he has to marry this girl. So they got married and then after they were married, she told him that she actually was faking the whole thing and she wasn't pregnant. She just wanted to marry him. 
Liz: [00:21:12] Oh my God.
Emily: [00:21:13] So the marriage didn't start off that. Well, however, since he was Lutheran, not only did he feel he had to marry her, he, it wasn't in his belief to divorce her. So he stayed with her and within four years they had three kids. 
Liz: [00:21:27] She got what she wanted there. Wow. That's quite a trap also like every guy's worst nightmare.
Emily: [00:21:32] I mean, make her take a pregnancy test, but 
Liz: [00:21:35] yeah. Guys always look for proof. 
Emily: [00:21:38] Yeah. So they're married, they have children and he lands a job as a vice president of a big bank in New Jersey. So they're living the good life and they purchase a 19 room mansion named breeze Knoll in. Uh, did I say the town yet?
Westfield New Jersey, 
Liz: [00:21:56] you know, you've made it, if your house has a name, 
Emily: [00:21:58] it's kind of obnoxious. 
Liz: [00:22:01] Yeah. Extremely 
Emily: [00:22:02] I'll do it, but I'm just saying it's, I'm not just, 
Liz: [00:22:04] I would take one. It was given to me. 
Emily: [00:22:09] It's not going to go naming my house. All right. The only issue is granted. He has a good job, but you need to have a, a lot of money to buy a 19 room mansion.
And when your wife's not working, he essentially couldn't afford it. And he had to go to his mother Alma for the money for the down payment in return. There was a separate, almost apartment like living space in this mansion where his mother moved in. I get that. Now you have an idea of, you know, he couldn't really afford it.
And then he loses his job and. This was actually a pattern with him. He often would get jobs and lose them. And it wasn't because he was bad. He was actually a really smart guy. He was just really awkward and off-putting, and later in life, people think that he actually had Asperger's. So he couldn't hold down a job.
And instead of telling his family that he lost his job, he kept it a secret and every day he would get ready for work and go onto the train and just ride it all day. 
Liz: [00:23:05] Oh my God. I feel like that's out of a movie. 
Emily: [00:23:07] I know. And eventually he would get other jobs, but there were low paying jobs. Like he would be a chef and like a fast food restaurant.
Sorry, that's a strong word. He 
Liz: [00:23:16] would just take, like, I was like, Oh, he was a chef, 
Emily: [00:23:19] you know, he pivoted his career. No. Uh, so he. He either didn't have a job or he would take very low paying jobs, but quickly the family went into debt. And then by 1971, they were bankrupt, but his family did not know about it.
Liz: [00:23:35] That is scary. 
Emily: [00:23:36] Besides that being scary, he was very, very devout Lutheran. And I don't know why, but I guess part of the old religion was that. Not only being in poverty is that, you know, a difficult hardship. It's also a sin according to that religion. 
Liz: [00:23:52] Wow. I did 
Emily: [00:23:52] not know that. So not only was his family now bankrupt, like he thought that he brought his family into sin.
Liz: [00:23:59] That is very stressful. 
Emily: [00:24:01] That is what leads us to November 9th, 1971. And just to give you a recap. His children, Frederick is 13 years old. John Jr is 15 years old and Patricia is 16 years old. So his children have left for school and his wife wakes up Helen, and she goes down to the kitchen to have a cup of coffee.
And John has a conversation with her that he walks behind her and shoots her in the back of the head and she dies instantly. 
Liz: [00:24:32] Oh, my God getting murdered over a cup of coffee is 
Emily: [00:24:35] terrible way to go. He then goes out to his mother's apartment slash area and the Manchin, and she asked him, what was that noise downstairs?
And he says, it's nothing. Don't worry about it. Chats with her. And then same thing walks behind her and then shoots her in the back of the head. So his wife and his mother are dead, but his children are still at school and he has a few hours to kill. And this is when he starts covering his tracks. So I should mention that this was not something that he just woke up one day and decided to kill his whole family.
He planned this for months. So he knew what he was doing this day. He wrote letters and made phone calls to his kids, teachers, his bosses, family, friends, saying that they were going out of town to visit a sick relative. And they wouldn't be back for a while. So, you know, not to worry, he goes to the post office and he tells them to stop delivering mail for a period of time.
He also talked to the milkman and the newspaper delivery boy, to stop doing deliveries. And he goes to the bank and MDs out his mother's, um, savings account. 
Liz: [00:25:43] I feel like he kind of thought of everything here, 
Emily: [00:25:45] obviously like a horrible thing to do, but he clearly knew what he was doing. So then his daughter, Patricia calls him and says she doesn't feel well and asked if he can pick her up from school.
He picks her up early and then when they get home, he, the same thing shoots her in the temple and she dies instantly. Then his son, Fred comes home and he shoots spread. And then finally his oldest son, John Jr. Had a soccer game. So John list went to the soccer game, chaired his son Han drove him home and then shot him.
Oh 
Liz: [00:26:19] my God. That is crazy. 
Emily: [00:26:21] And 
Liz: [00:26:22] how could you, how. 
Emily: [00:26:24] Two things here. One later, all this comes out, obviously, and everyone at the soccer game, no one saw it coming. No one knew anything was wrong. 
Liz: [00:26:33] I feel like that's to be able to act totally normal when you've just killed 
Emily: [00:26:38] your whole family. Yeah. And the other terrible thing about John Jr was he didn't die instantly.
Actually he struggled. So John Sr, John lists, the father shot him nine more times. I 
Liz: [00:26:53] was just about to make a comment that this is horrible. And I hate to say it. I was going to say, at least they all died instantly, but this ruins that 
Emily: [00:27:03] after murders everyone in his family, he puts them all in sleeping bags and then drags them into the ballroom and aligns them together.
Also note that I said ballroom 
Liz: [00:27:13] and Jessica to say the fact that they hit a ball room. 
Emily: [00:27:15] So he goes to bed. He gets a good night's sleep. And according to him, quote, it was the best night's sleep of his life. What 
Liz: [00:27:24] a psycho, 
Emily: [00:27:25] right? What a psycho. So he goes to sleep. Then he wakes up the next morning. He turns down the central air very low because he wants to preserve the bodies.
He doesn't want the neighbors to smell anything. He turns on every light in the house and turns on every TV and radio. So if you're walking by you think people are home, he writes a five page confession letter to his pastor and just leaves it there. He finds every single family picture in the house and scratches out his face.
He drives to JFK airport and he leaves the car. There takes a bus back into the city. And then from there he drives to Denver. Then when he's in Denver, he applies for a new social security card under the name of Robert, Peter Clark. And he gets a new job and he's just gone. 
Liz: [00:28:15] Can you do that? You can just apply for a new social security 
Emily: [00:28:17] card.
I know how crazy. Yeah. I was thinking that, but what year is this 
Liz: [00:28:21] a 
Emily: [00:28:21] seven news seventies? Like, I mean, you definitely couldn't do that now, but 
Liz: [00:28:25] I mean, did he make that name up or is that a real person? 
Emily: [00:28:28] He made it up. So he murders his whole family completely covers the tracks. Leaves the car at the airport, which is genius, genius.
And then he gets a new identity and he is gone. Jeez. So the story does not end here. I'm just going to fast forward one month. Okay. Patricia, the daughter, her drama teacher got really worried and the drama teacher said she's not in school for a whole month. Like that's not normal. And also she was a really great drama student.
And since the list lived in a giant mansion with a ballroom, they would often host drama practice there. 
Liz: [00:29:04] Oh. 
Emily: [00:29:05] So the teacher would drive her home sometimes, or like, like they were closed, but nothing weird there. And the drama teacher said that one day she broke down crying and said, my dad got so angry the other night and told us that he was gonna murder us all.
Oh, so the drama teacher said, I think something seriously wrong. So the drama teacher convinces another teacher to go back to list house and see what's going on. So when they get there, they're looking around and they're looking in windows and the neighbors call the cops because the neighbors think it's weird that two men are just breaking into a 
Liz: [00:29:37] house.
No, totally. 
Emily: [00:29:38] So when the police come and then the neighbors come outside, the two teachers say they're teachers and they're actually really worried about the family because they haven't seen them in a while. And the neighbors started to say, you know, we haven't seen them. This is weird. So the police actually help in the investigation.
Like they all start searching around the house to see what's happening and they find an unlocked window. So they opened the window and a policeman goes in and instantly he smells, Oh 
Liz: [00:30:06] God. Yeah. It's been over a month. 
Emily: [00:30:08] Yeah. The police search, they find the dead bodies and they find John less confession. So the, they know exactly what happened, but it's been a whole month that's past like John list is gone.
Liz: [00:30:21] He's long gone. 
Emily: [00:30:22] He is long gone. And the worst part is the house actually had an original Tiffany stained glass window that was worth. A hundred thousand dollars. 
Liz: [00:30:35] Oh my God. So he could have just sold that 
Emily: [00:30:37] it, yes. So all this man had to do, if he knew that he could just sold that. And when he covered his debts and more, the solution was hanging over his head the whole time that 
Liz: [00:30:46] is like ironic or something.
Emily: [00:30:48] Right. I was going to use the word irony, but I wasn't sure if that was the right word. 
Liz: [00:30:52] I'm not sure either, obviously, but, Hmm. 
Emily: [00:30:54] I don't know, but I mean, that's just crazy. 
Liz: [00:30:57] Yeah. Wild. 
Emily: [00:30:59] So now years pass and the case obviously goes cold and the police want to catch John list and they try to constantly bring it to the public's attention too.
Like yours, if anyone has any tips to bring them forward. 
Liz: [00:31:13] And in this case, they know exactly what he looks like. Oh 
Emily: [00:31:16] yeah, exactly. Just where is this man? They even try to bring it to unsolved mysteries, the TV show and the show denies them. 
Liz: [00:31:25] Why. 
Emily: [00:31:26] I'm sure they get a ton of requests. Yeah. They can't accept everything.
They also try to bring it to America's most wanted 18 years later, but America's most wanted declines it with the quote. Too old, too cold. 
Liz: [00:31:41] I mean, that's not funny, 
Emily: [00:31:42] but not funny, but love the love, the rhyme. Yeah. Then a man named John Walsh catches wind of the case and he is a true crime TV host and his six-year-old son was murdered.
Whose name was Adam? So he was very invested in victim's rights. Obviously sounds like a sane and he hears about this case and he wants to bring John lists to justice. You know, a man who killed his whole family and is out free. So he finds an old picture of John list and he performs some like age what's it called?
Age progression. So we looked at what John's parents looked like and worked with all these different scientists to see how would this man age essentially. And he also worked with the FBI to get a criminal profile of him and what his personality would be like. And they aired this on America's most wanted on May 21st, 1989.
Liz: [00:32:40] So it's been 18 years, 
Emily: [00:32:41] 22 million people solve the program, including true crime fans, Wanda Flannery, and her daughter, Eva Mitchell, 
Liz: [00:32:50] true crime fans are the best. 
Emily: [00:32:52] We are the best. And they lived in Denver and they said that they saw America's most wanted. And first they read the psychological profile and they thought that sounds like our old neighbor.
And then they showed the picture and they said, That's our old 
Liz: [00:33:08] neighbor. Oh my gosh. They knew even before they saw the picture, that's crazy. 
Emily: [00:33:11] They knew even before they saw the picture, because the way they described this person, they said he would be, soft-spoken always wears a suit and accountant and a devout Lutheran.
And they thought that sounds like, you know, the neighbor and then boom, the picture comes up. 
Liz: [00:33:25] Wow. That's a sorta like my dream. 
Emily: [00:33:28] I know. I was thinking the saved the thing. So they called the tip line and a 11 days later, they show up at Bob Clark, this new man, they show up at his office and they questioned him and he completely denies it.
They bring him for questioning, they get his fingerprints and they compare it to fingerprints because John list applied for a permit for a gun and they had his fingerprints on file. And they Aidid him. So they found John list. 
Liz: [00:33:57] Amazing. But I'm, can't believe that he was out for 18 years, just like living a life 
Emily: [00:34:02] 18 years, he had a new wife, he had a new wife and he said that when they were watching America's most wanted.
And when the picture showed up, it looked exactly like him and he just froze. And who's sitting next to his new wife on the couch, but she had no idea. 
Liz: [00:34:20] Holy shit. 
Emily: [00:34:22] Ignorance is bliss. You know, I would never think my husband could do such a thing, but 
Liz: [00:34:27] this is a crazy story. 
Emily: [00:34:28] 18 and a half years later, his trial begins on April 2nd, 1990 and nine days later on April 11th.
After nine hours of deliberation, the jury finds him guilty on all five counts of first degree murder.  and he sentenced to five life sentences or consecutive life terms. 
Liz: [00:34:50] Good riddance. 
Emily: [00:34:51] And when his sentencing was read aloud, apparently everyone in the courtroom started cheering 
Liz: [00:34:57] good as they should 
Emily: [00:34:59] love it.
And people have said, John Walsh, this man who heard about the case, you know, the TV, true crime TV, personality. His mock-up of what John list would look like was the only reason that he was essentially caught. 
Liz: [00:35:15] Exactly. Yeah. 
Emily: [00:35:16] And he actually had the mock-up framed in his office because he was so proud that like he got John lists.
Liz: [00:35:23] I love that. 
Emily: [00:35:25] Then John lists died in prison on March 21st, in 2008 from pneumonia when he was 80 to 
Liz: [00:35:33] 2002. So he was in prison for a good amount of time. 
Emily: [00:35:35] Yeah. I mean, It's so crazy. I think the craziest part is that he was just on the run for so long. He probably thought he got away with it at one point.
Liz: [00:35:45] Absolutely. I feel like after, I don't know, a handful of years you would be like, I'm done. 
Emily: [00:35:50] Yeah, for sure. And John Lewis said he expressed remorse, but he said he did this because he wanted to see his family in heaven and suicide is a sin. So that's why he didn't kill himself. And at the end of the day, he just wanted his family to be happy.
What an asshole bull 
Liz: [00:36:08] shit 
Emily: [00:36:08] bull shit. And another interesting note was, have you heard of DB Cooper? 
Liz: [00:36:15] Yes. 
Emily: [00:36:16] Yeah. So the guy who hijacked a plane. Yep. So for our listeners three weeks after John LIS murdered his whole family, a man named DB Cooper, hijacked a plane. Um, it was, uh, a domestic flight and demanded $200,000 in ransom.
And once he got it, he took a parachute and jumped off the plane. And no one to this day, I know who this man is. 
Liz: [00:36:41] I know that story is crazy. 
Emily: [00:36:43] Some people think he died on the jump, but no one's ever found his bones. There's so many theories. Nobody who knows who it is, but when it happened, everyone thought he was John LIS because it was three weeks after he murdered his family.
Oh. And it looked exactly like John lists like the sketch of the people on the plane. 
Liz: [00:37:02] That would make sense. Wow. That's so funny. I didn't know that. 
Emily: [00:37:05] So then when they arrested John lists, they tried to get them on that crime. Apparently he said, no, that was not me. That's in sand. I'm not jumping on a plane.
And the. Uh, FBI actually wrote him off and they don't think he's a suspect, but to this day, some people do think John list was DB Cooper. 
Liz: [00:37:21] Oh, wow. That story is. Wild. And I also can't believe how many planes were hijacked in like the seventies. 
Emily: [00:37:28] Crazy. However, every single one was solved. There was never an unknown Hijacker except DB Cooper.
He's the only person 
Liz: [00:37:36] so interesting. 
Emily: [00:37:37] And $200,000. I asked for an ransom that was equivalent to 1.2, 6 million. So 
Liz: [00:37:45] that's a lot of 
Emily: [00:37:46] money, a lot of money. And that's the story of John list. 
Liz: [00:37:49] Fascinating and horrifying. 
Emily: [00:37:51] So horrifying. I hate family Annihilator stories. I mean, you covered one last week. 
Liz: [00:37:56] I know it's scary that there's so many to choose from 
Emily: [00:38:00] how everyone says, Oh, we never saw coming.
We never thought he would do this. That's 
Liz: [00:38:06] definitely the scariest part. Oh, 
Emily: [00:38:08] this is why I don't want to get married. 
Liz: [00:38:10] I know.
Okay. Well that was a lot. A lot to unpack. Oh God. All right. I'm gonna need to have some more wine for me to go to sleep 
Emily: [00:38:21] tonight. Sounds like a plan. 
Liz: [00:38:24] Cheers. Cheers. .

Murder start