RIGHTEOUS CARNAGE by Timothy B. Benford


The List Murders
Email this review


 Chilling account of the multiple murders that shocked newspaper readers and TV viewers in 1971, and stunned them 18 years later when the killer was at last caught through the auspices of a popular TV program. As Benford (author of several quiz books) and Johnson ably explain, the mother, wife, and three children of John Emil List were found shot to death and carefully laid out in their unheated Westfield, N.J., home. The only family member missing was List himself--who admitted his guilt in a letter to his Lutheran pastor. Reclusive, deeply religious, and seemingly devoted to his family, List was an unlikely mass murderer, with an unlikely reason for gunning down his family: Facing financial difficulties and fearing that his wife and children were falling away from religion, List decided to assure their eternal salvation by murdering them. He then ran off to start a new life as one Robert Clark, remarried, and was caught nearly two decades later when his picture was broadcast on TV's America's Most Wanted. Drawing on interviews with List neighbors and law officers, the authors have uncovered some astonishing sidelights to the case. List's wife, Helen, for instance, was apparently dying of tertiary syphilis; and there is evidence that daughter Patricia was dabbling in witchcraft. Well-organized and fast-paced, with convincing insights into the minds of List and his victims: a true-crime success. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-684-19200-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991