For weeks before he killed his family, 46-year old John List put on a suit and left every day for work. But John was unemployed. He was adequately skilled in his career as an accountant, but he had been repeatedly let go from jobs because of his odd, off-putting personality.
So, John was spending his days at the train station. He would pass the time reading and return home for dinner as if all was well. He was too proud to tell his wife and his children that he had lost his job. But he knew they were going to find out. The mortgage was not being paid and the foreclosure process had begun. He would soon be exposed as a failure.
On November 9, 1971, after the children left for school, John shot his wife and his mother to death in the family home. Then he waited for his children to come home, picking them off one by one.
Decades later, John List would say that he killed his family to spare them from poverty and send them to heaven. But, if that was true, why did he disappear after killing them and start a new life with a clean slate? According to a psychiatrist who did extensive interviews with him, John List was angry, repressed, and without empathy. Like many family annihilators, List only saw others for what they could do for him. His family members were not people with their own thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams, but merely accessories to a life he no longer wished to live.
Join us at the quiet end today for Clean Slate: The List Family Murders. We’re taking a look at List’s childhood, his marriage, and, of course, the life he continued to live after committing five murders.