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"To Save Their Souls"

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onager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 06:10 PM
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"To Save Their Souls"
You're a very devout mainstream Lutheran, facing a financial crisis and bankruptcy. You have a wife, 3 teen-aged kids, and a mom who lives with you.

After much thought, you have come up with 3 possible courses of action:

1. Suicide. Not acceptable - it violates your religious beliefs and you will go to hell.

2. Leaving. Not acceptable - without you, your family will be poor, which is a mortal sin. Your family might even have to depend on the welfare system, which is clearly anti-god.

3. Kill them all. Acceptable. The family gets an instant pass to Heaven. And murder is a sin, but a forgivable one.

That was exactly the thinking of John List...which he put down in a 5-page letter to his pastor, after he killed his family in 1971 and disappeared.

He re-appeared in 1989, on "America's Most Wanted," and was finally captured. In the meantime, he had re-married and was leading a normal, humdrum life. He died in prison of natural causes in 2008, while serving 5 consecutive life sentences.

American Justice is currently showing its List episode again. The interviews with List in prison are just blood-curdling. List clearly had no remorse for what he did. At times he laughed. And even 4 decades later, he was absolutely convinced that his family was better off dead than living in poverty.

List didn't murder his family because he was religious. But hearing him use his belief to justify the murders was certainly...interesting.

Just posted this on a slow Sunday for any other murder aficionados. American Justice re-runs all its shows to infinity. The episode title is the same as the Subject line - "To Save Their Souls."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_List

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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 07:05 PM
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1. " List didn't murder his family because he was religious."
It rather sounds like he did. If he hadn't been religious, or at least if he hadn't subscribed to that particular flavor of religion, his family would still be alive.
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onager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 09:10 PM
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2. It gave him a good excuse, for sure.
But I think he would have killed them no matter what religion he belonged to. Maybe even without a religion. Or maybe not, since he couldn't play the heaven/forgiveness card in that case.

The program has interviews with the psychiatrist who evaluated List after his capture. List was the stereotypical "nice guy next door." Quiet, an accountant, church-going, etc. etc. The shrink was adamant about one thing - whatever else he might have been, List wasn't insane. Though the List defense team sure tried to prove otherwise.

Back in the 90's, there was a good TV movie made about List: "Judgment Day."

List was played by...uh...Robert Blake...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107285/
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. So basically he killed them
then tried to get away with it by claiming he did it because of his religious beliefs?
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onager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 09:49 PM
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4. Just my opinion, but I think so.
Edited on Sun Nov-20-11 09:50 PM by onager
He mentioned the religious hoo-ha in the letter to his pastor, which was dated the same day of the crime. But List had a LOT of time to plan that crime, and he was one meticulous planner...as we would expect from a German-American accountant with obsessive-compulsive issues.

The final horrible irony of that case - List had bought an old mansion he couldn't afford (one big reason for his financial problems). That mansion had a ballroom with a beautiful stained-glass ceiling.

Long after the murders, when the house caught fire, the ceiling turned out to be built and signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany - it was a no-kidding original Tiffany piece. If List had sold that ceiling alone, he could have solved all his financial problems.
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