Saturday, January 28, 2023

Sunday Synopsis: Death Sentence - The Inside Story of the John List Murders

Death Sentence: The Inside Story of the John List MurdersDeath Sentence: The Inside Story of the John List Murders by Joe Sharkey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was not the first book I've read about John List. Many years ago, I read a different book that I believe John List himself wrote or co-wrote. This one is much better and more realistic.

John Emil List murdered his entire family: his mother, wife, daughter, and two sons. Due to List's careful planning, the murder wasn't discovered for a month, and he was long gone. Prior to this, he was a "milquetoast" accountant and follower of a now-defunct sect of Lutheranism. He and his family moved to New Jersey, lived in a mansion complete with a library and ballroom, and then he lost his job. Feeling like he could no longer be a good provider (among other reasons detailed in the book), he shot each and every member of his family.

List then assumed the name Robert P. Clark, became a cook then a chef's assistant, remarried, and finally worked his way back into accounting. John List was featured on America's Most Wanted. A neighbor of "Bob" and his wife believed Bob was John, based on a bust that was made to show what John List looked like all these years later, but his wife convinced the neighbor there was no way this mild-mannered, introverted man could have short his own family. They decided it was just a coincidence, but other people were watching. He would eventually be caught, albeit 18 years after the crime was committed.

Joe Sharkey tells the story of John List from before the crime as well as after. He gives detailed background information so the reader can see where John List came from and possibly why he was motivated to do this. Only he will really know, and he died back in 2008, so all we have is speculation. A lot of research, time, and effort went in to writing this book making it a thorough account of the ordeal. True crime fans should enjoy this one.

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  1. I grew up in the next town over from this murder. (I was very young when it happened.) I do want to read this book but I'm not sure if it will be too close for comfort!

  2. It's scary what some people can do.


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