Dartmouth Killer Steps into Freedom After 16 Years in Prison


In a scene straight out of a tragic novel, James Parker, a man previously convicted for his involvement in the brutal stabbing deaths of two Dartmouth College professors, has finally taken his first steps of freedom after being released from prison.

Parker carried the weight of his atrocities with him as he marked his 16th year in prison since his conviction for the gruesome 2001 murders of Half and Susanne Zantop in the tranquil university town of Hanover, New Hampshire. Following some extensive deliberation, the parole board decided in April to grant Parker his long-awaited parole.

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Parker’s counsel, the high-profile attorney Cathy Green, recently revealed her client’s newly attained freedom. In accordance with the conditions of his release, she disclosed that a “no contact” order has been enforced, prohibiting Parker from making any attempts to reach out to the Zantop family. This comes years after Parker pled guilty to being an accomplice to second-degree murder, serving just shy of his initially decreed sentence of 25 years to life.

During his parole hearing earlier this year, Parker expressed his remorse, acknowledging the horrifyingly atrocious nature of his actions. He imparted to those present at his hearing that his deeds were “unimaginably horrible,” and even admitting that he does not believe “an amount of time or things can be done to change it, or alleviate the pain that he’s caused.”

The chilling story rewinds to more than two decades ago when Parker, then 16-year-old, and Robert Tulloch, 17, began concocting a macabre plan motivated by a longing move to Australia. They planned to rob the Zantops of their credit card information and ATM details in order to fund their venture, later deciding to murder the professors, as an added precaution. The execution of their plan saw Parker and Tulloch fatally stabbing the unsuspecting Zantops, absconding with a mere $340 and a scrap of paper with bank account numbers. This twisted tale took an ironic turn when the duo was apprehended weeks later at an Indiana truck stop.

Tulloch, Parker’s accomplice, pled guilty to first-degree murder, receiving the harsh sentence of life without the possibility of parole. This sentence underwent review when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was against the Constitution to hand juveniles mandatory life sentences deprived of the chance of parole.

The victims, Susanne Zantop, 55, and Half Zantop, 62, were accomplished academics of German birth. In fact, Susanne served as the head of Dartmouth’s German studies department while Half lent his expertise to the Earth sciences department.

The Zantops’ daughter, Veronika Zantop, expressed in an email sent to The Associated Press in April her enduring sorrow, lamenting the myriad of moments her parents missed out on, which caused a deep-seated sadness. Despite her evident woes, she stated that she wishes Parker, and his family, well and harbors hopes of healing for them.