Teen behind 2001 Dartmouth killings granted parole after spending half his life behind bars

Friday, April 19, 2024 – A teen who has spent two decades behind bars after murdering two Dartmouth College professors has been granted parole.

James Parker, now almost 40, appeared before the New Hampshire state parole board years after pleading guilty to killing Half and Susanne Zantop, in Hanover.

Parker, 16 at the time, has served close to the minimum of his 25-years-to-life sentence for second-degree murder.

During his parole hearing on Thursday, April 18, he said that he was “deeply sorry.”

His lawyer and Department of Corrections staff said that Parker has taken many steps through the years to rehabilitate himself and help fellow inmates.

Parker acknowledged the “unimaginably horrible” crime he’d committed and said he knows that no amount of time could change or alleviate the pain he’s caused.

Parker was 16 when he and his then 17-year-old friend, Robert Tulloch, hatched a heinous plan to leave their lives in Chelsea, Vermont, for greener pastures in Australia. They killed the professors in a conspiracy to earn fast cash to move to Australia.

People who knew the teens were shocked to think the “class clowns” were capable of such a vicious crime.

The trip would need an estimated $10,000 and the pair decided they’d knock on the doors of unsuspecting homeowners under the guise of conducting a survey on environmental issues. Once inside, Parker and Tulloch planned to tie up their victims, steal their credit cards and ATM information and force them to provide their PIN numbers before killing them.

Parker revealed that they picked the Zantop house because it looked expensive and it was surrounded by trees.

Half, 62, had let them into his home on Jan. 27, 2001, and within 10 minutes Tulloch had stabbed him and directed Parker to stab Susanne, 55, Parker told police in an interview at the time.

The pair fled the brutal murder scene with Half’s wallet which contained about $340 and a list of numbers. After leaving, Parker and Tulloch realized they’d left behind their knife sheaths at the house and couldn’t return after seeing the place swarming with police.

Fingerprints on the knife sheath and a bloody boot print eventually linked the pair to the crime but after being questioned by police they fled and hitchhiked West before they were nabbed at an Indiana truck stop weeks later.

Parker, who cooperated with prosecutors and testified against Tulloch, had sought a sentence reduction in 2018 but withdrew his petition after Zantops’ two daughters objected.

Tulloch, now 40, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and got a sentence of life without parole. He’s scheduled for a resentencing hearing in June.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile offender to mandatory life imprisonment without parole.

Tulloch and four other men who received such sentences were granted resentencing hearings in 2014 as a result.

Susanne Zantop was the head of Dartmouth’s German studies department, while Half Zantop taught Earth sciences. Both hailed from Germany.

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