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Just a run of the mill day?

Updated on August 31, 2016
Mugshot of John List, c.2005
Mugshot of John List, c.2005

Does anyone remember John List, the man from Westfield, NJ who on November 9, 1971 killed his wife, mother and three teenage children then took an 18 year powder before Americas Most Wanted ruined his weekend? You know who I'm talking about. It's probably one of the most notorious murder cases of the last century. Now I'm not really certain how I found my way to his Wikipedia page today. I was just tooling around the internet as I usually do in hopes of finding something of inspiration to spout off about, hopping from one link to another and then another and then there I was reading about this man who decided one day he no longer had a need for his family. As I read I found a detail about the case that I previously wasn't aware of. Now I'm a Jersey boy through and through and I don't believe there is a single person who lives in this state that hasn't heard about this case in one way or another and as cold and inhuman as the murders were--or any murder for that matter--this one tid-bit puts it in a category all on it's own and probably defines evil in every conceivable fashion. Shortly after he shuffled his children out the door and off to school, John spent the morning murdering his wife, Helen, 46 with a gunshot to the back of her head and then his mother, Elma, 84 with one well placed shot above her left eye. Now hours later, after spending an entire afternoon with the corpses of his wife and mother, his daughter, Patricia, 16, and son, Frederick, 13, bound through the front door like most children do after a long day of classes unaware of their loving father, tucked away just out of sight, waiting patiently for their arrival where he greets them both with one shot each to the back of the head. Now here's the part that chills me to the core and makes me wonder if this man wasn't Satan himself. After dispatching his first and last born, wife and mother, he prepares and consumes a hearty meal. With sustenance out of the way, as well as four fifths of his family, he now drives to the bank closing all accounts and then dashes over to the watch the soccer game of his second eldest child, John, 15. He stays for the entirety of the game, cheering him on as any proud and supportive father would, then after the game the two drive back to their home where once his boy is inside, List shoots him repeatedly in the chest and in the face. My God, when I read that last part I wanted to cry. When they caught the son of a bitch 18 years later, he was remarried and living a new life. I'll never understand something like this. Couldn't he have just left? He sat there at his sons soccer game knowing what he had done, what he was going to do when it was over, never once arousing suspicion from other parents or loosing the lunch he had eaten in between acts. I still feel guilt for stupid things I did twenty years ago. Sometimes I lay awake at night ashamed of a lie I told or the grief I caused my parents being the wild, know-it-all teenager I was. So I ask you, how could, List, or anyone do such a thing and feel nothing at all, one way or the other about it and then enter another marriage under the pretense of love and commitment? It's such a dark and twisted notion that reads like fiction but it sickens and frightens me in a way fiction can't. Is the line between dreaming up something like this and actually following through that fine? We have all had terrible thoughts towards someone in our lives at one point, but I can't even begin to imagine what the malignant thought process would be for someone so devoid of basic emotion who are prepared to actually carry out such a despicable act. An idea so alien to me seemed like such an easy decision for List. The real scary part is this man was not disturbed or out of touch with reality. It was a well thought out plan that he almost got away with and it seems to me he traded in the lives of five people like they were nothing more then a hobby he had grown tired of. It really makes me wonder how close any one of us have come to someone like this without the slightest notion of what they really are. My heart wants me to believe that there can't be too many of these of people walking around, but my head tells me they might be a touch closer then we think.


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