Millikin University Professor Under Fire After Discovery That He Is A Former Mental Hospital Patient Who Killed His Family

article-0-1B2028A9000005DC-50_306x423dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsMillikin University is facing a challenging controversy over one of its faculty, Professor James St. James. It turns out that James St. James is not his original name which was James Gordon Wolcott. The problem is that Wolcott is a former state mental patient who killed his family in 1967. St. James effectively reinvented himself with remarkable (and commendable) success — ultimately not just teaching but heading the university’s Department of Behavioral Sciences. The university is standing by him as people call for his removal from the faculty.

St. James has been teaching at Millikin since 1986. It does not appear that he revealed his history to the school since the university stated in a release that “Millikin University has only recently been made aware of Dr. St. James’ past.” Such omissions can be used for disciplinary action even termination, but such cases remain rare absent falsification of academic credentials.

article-0-1B2005D7000005DC-986_634x527article-0-1B20064B000005DC-614_634x290St. James is not accused of lying about his credentials or even lying about his past. He just did not tell people about his criminal acts as a teenager. St. James, who is now 61, was only 15 when he shot and killed his father, Gordon Wolcott; his mother Elizabeth Wolcott and his sister, 17-year-old Elizabeth Wolcott. He was high on sniffing glue at the time. St. James was a brilliant but disturbed teenager who grabbed a .22-caliber rifle, walked into the living room and shot his father while he was reading. He then shot his sister and then his mother.

article-0-1B200583000005DC-99_634x686article-0-1B20057F000005DC-575_634x744 He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in in 1968 and sent to Rusk State Hospital. He was released six years later in 1974 and appears to have put his life together. He was given help by the fact that he could inherit his parents’ estate and even draw a monthly stipend from his father’s pension fund. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a PhD. As a professor, he is given high reviews for his classes.

The university has resisted calls for his resignation or termination: “Given the traumatic experiences of his childhood, Dr. St. James’ efforts to rebuild his life and obtain a successful professional career have been remarkable. The University expects Dr. St. James to teach at Millikin this fall.”

The university’s position shows great sensitivity and understanding. St. James was found not guilty of these crimes. He went on to not only be declared sane but to achieve an extraordinary level of achievement. These killings were truly horrific but they were committed by a child high on airplane glue who had a history of mental illness. His ability to turn around his life is an amazing story. It is not a happy story to be sure. It begins with the killing of a family in a blood-soaked rage. Yet, it is a story of redemption. His decision to study psychology and behavioral science is quite telling. He appears to have worked hard to understand what motivates a person, like himself, to do unspeakable things. Perhaps his academic training was part of his personal recovery.

The university could have used the failure to disclose to discipline St. James but chose to see the man as he is now rather than what he was as a child. In the end, there is no punishment to fit this crime. Yet, St. James has built a worthy and meaningful life from the ashes of tragedy in his youth. That in itself is quite a lesson.


Source: Daily Mail

61 thoughts on “Millikin University Professor Under Fire After Discovery That He Is A Former Mental Hospital Patient Who Killed His Family

  1. Yet, it is a story of redemption. His decision to study psychology and behavioral science is quite telling. He appears to have worked hard to understand what motivates a person, like himself, to do unspeakable things. Perhaps his academic training was part of his personal recovery.

    I know of another professor involved in the study of the human mind and its impact on human behavior.

    Interestingly, the professor I speak of has the genetic markers of a sociopath or even further perhaps a psychopath.

    Both stories shine some light on epigenetics:

  2. Given that by all evidence the man has turned his life around and done remarkably well in the process what is the problem? Can his deed as a 16 year old be undone, by further punishment? Is our legal system supposed to be about revenge only?

  3. The irony is it appears had he not killed his parents and then financially benefitted from it it may well have had a very different ending.

  4. Personally, as a forensic psychologist, I am inspired by Dr. St. James’ story. According to the records, he had a psychotic break at age fifteen after sniffing glue. He got treatment, and rebuilt his life. Any neuropsychologist will tell you that certain chemicals will trigger a psychosis, and that is apparently what happened. The person who walked out of that mental hospital six years later was not the same one who walked in.

    Had his psychotic break been due to natural causes such as a major mental illness, we might be looking at quite different treatment outcomes. I worked on a case where a seventeen year old killed his family in the late 1970s. He is still locked up, and still dangerous. Dr. St. James’ case is clearly different.

    I am with the University on this one. If he was a danger to society, we would have known about it long before now.

  5. I have to take exception to the general feeling about Dr. St. James. Had anyone else lied on their resume as to who their real name is, they would probably have been fired on the spot. If he had such a violent history, even though he was not sane during the murders, how was he allowed to teach at a university without an adequate background check? I commend his recovery, but I thought the truth of who he was and what he has done should not have been hidden from his employer.

  6. If you want to know the truth speak t the one with wisdom…. But where does one get wisdom but by learning from there mistakes….

  7. Well, we are a country of 2nd chances. However, I agree with leejcaroll and raff on this one.

    There was a research study published, stating that a white person with a criminal background is more likely to be hired than a black person without one (even when the black candidate’s credentials are more ‘impressive’ than the white candidate’s).

    Apparently, Dr. St. James (or Dr. Wolcott) benefited from this………

  8. People change their names over time for a variety of reasons. Here, he applied under the name in which he presumably earned the qualifications for his position. We are so used to the availability of information now, but in 1986 the chance of an Illinois University identifying him as the person who was committed 18 years earlier in Texas would have been extremely small even if they knew his prior name. I don’t know about this specific university, but in the 1980s many universities did minimal checks when hiring.

  9. From blhlls comment it also occurs to me he was a juvenile at the time. Maybe the records were not findable because of his age? (And we don’t know how the information was found given the school’s statement “we became aware of”.)

  10. For myself, true stories of redemption are the most inspiring. They show we are flawed humans willing to repent, change, and turn our lives into a path of good work. My nature and profession always makes me wary of stories of redemption. Because you see, TRUE redemption is rare. And, we can all think of people in the public eye or in our personal lives that were presented to us as persons of redemption, only to learn it was false. Unlike the consensus here, I find the non disclosure of this professor’s killings troubling. I understand the man was found not guilty by reason of insanity. I assume he admits he did kill his family, but that he was not culpable because he was not aware of what he was doing. The term “self medicating” is overused in our culture, but the sniffing of glue, based on this man’s psych. history, certainly seems indicate that is indeed what he was doing.

    A pure redemption would have included complete disclosure of his past. However, that’s where we need to look into our hearts. I’m not willing to forget his omission. It is a fact not in dispute. However, based on the information, I am willing to forgive it. In order for redemption to exist, there must be forgiveness. And, in my mind, forgiveness is as precious as redemption.

  11. I agree with Larry about the name change issue. Maybe his name was legally changed, I don’t know, but I don’t believe background checks and detailed job applications were as ardent as they are today, compared perhaps when the professor originally applied. I’m glad this man turned around his life so completely it seems.

    I was also surprised the pension stipend and estate wasn’t nixed in probate due to the beneficiary being the slayer. Maybe it is different if the slayer is not guilty by reason of insantiy.

    Here is my state’s law

  12. nick,
    I agree with forgiving this person, but normally professionals working at a school are subject to a strict review of their past. Maybe the juvenile record was expunged, but I would be a bit surprised if a non-guilty for reason of insanity can be expunged.

  13. We’d have to see the employment application he completed for the university to see if he actually lied. Did it ask: “Have you ever been arrested for or charged with a felony?” if it did. He would have had to answer “yes”. If it asked only about convictions, he would have rightfully answered “no”.

  14. The man changed his life and name. he became a responsible part of society and has not been in trouble yet. the reporter who outted him did it out of malice. so heres something that reporter and all naysayers need to think about..

    The gentleman has done nothing wrong for 30 yrs. but now since a nosy reporter has destroyed what this man has struggled to build it just might cause another psychotic break and who will end up on the other side of it? and there is only the reporters and naysayers to blame

    i say it everyday the elites have done a darn good job of removing any human feelings from the souls of humanity how proud they are to make them all a part of satans world….. enjoy your ride

  15. Looks like it’s currently illegal in Illinois to ask about arrests, but that is an area of law which is changed in many places over the last few decades.

  16. Darren makes an excellent observation upthread. Back when he first applied for the position in the mid-1980s, they did not do the extensive background checks done now. Remember, this was before the ubiquitous Internet, and the “War on Terror.” Inquiries were done by mail and telephone, because there was no email. The university would have looked at his credentials, his transcript, and letters of reference from his professors and dissertation adviser. If they asked anything about criminal background, it would only have been about felony convictions.

    Nowadays, one has to produce an original birth certificate and multiple forms of ID. Do not be surprised if the prospective employer wants to run NCIC, NCIS and AFIS reports, and of course, there is Google. If a vet, they will want to see your DD-214 where they check the type of discharge and SPN number.

    Having said all that, with a legal name change and the murders took place when he was a juvenile, there may have been no record; and even today, there may be no record. When we adopted our daughter, the State Department of Vital Records issued a brand new birth certificate. It shows the hospital and attending doctor where she was born, but it has my wife and me as her birth parents. I don’t know what they did with the original birth certificate.

  17. raff, Depending on the state, juvenile records are quite private. I can only speak directly about a few juvenile courts, Jackson County, Mo.[KC] being the best source since I worked there. The only way a prospective employer could have access to juvenile records is w/ a signed release from the person in question. If the person was still a juvenile @ the time of a request, then a parent/legal guardian had to sign. The employers who were often in the record dept. getting records were recruiters for the military. And, that was only because the recruiter would tell an applicant that they needed to know if they had a juvenile record, otherwise, if it was found w/o them disclosing, it would mean a dishonorable discharge. The reality, @ least back then, was if the applicant didn’t volunteer they had a record, the recruiter could never had known. The only people who had access to those records, or even the existence of a juvenile records, were court employees and LEO’s.

    As blhlls stated, 1986 was before our internet age. As I look back working from the 70’s to now, there was a huge leap in access to background information w/ the internet, particularly in the last 10-15 years. Even if this guy didn’t change his name, no one would have known about the offense via a standard records check. When I was hired by companies to do a complete background check that would mean going to the different addresses the person lived and talking w/ people. I used the model for FBI background checks for prospective and current Federal employees. Back in 1986, I would have spoken w/ people in the person’s town/city village. I would also check the archives of the local newspaper[s]. If Milliken did that, there’s a very good chance they would have come up w/ this killing. Hell, if it occurred in a small town, EVERYONE would have remembered the killings. However, I seriously doubt a university would do that complete a check on a prospective professor hire. Maybe for a prospective president, but I doubt even for that position.

  18. blhlls 1, August 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Looks like it’s currently illegal in Illinois to ask about arrests, but that is an area of law which is changed in many places over the last few decades.
    Chicago don’t need no stinkin’ background checks?



    So when they ask “you got conviction?”

    You answer, “yes I have a lot of conviction!”

    When they ask “you got arrest?”

    You answer, “no, my heart is still good!”

  19. nick,
    I understand that when he first applied for the position they may not have had ready access to all the records and juvenile records may be sealed, but I would be surprised if the background checks were not routinely updated as the years went by because the rules and regs concerning the hiring of teachers and staff that will come in contact with students has gotten stricter.

  20. Rafflaw: I really doubt there would have been any kind of check since he was hired, if then. In my state at that time even elementary school districts relied on the existence of a credential and reference checks. Once hired, no additional checks would be done in the absence of some suspicion. It would be very unusual to have a legal requirement for checks for teaching at a university. The only time I’ve ever heard of an institution “updating” pre-employment type checks involved a particular university after a scandal related to a total failure to even confirm degrees prior to hiring.

  21. raff, I’ve never done background checks for a university, but have for private companies and the govt.. Even private companies don’t do follow-up backgrounds on employees unless some red flag arises. Maybe if a person is in a sensitive position, but not that I’m aware. For people in the Federal govt. working jobs that require security clearances[ that’s many], there are follow-up backgrounds required every 5-10 years[last time I did one anyway]. A few require more frequent follow-ups. A friend I have in Santa Fe is a retired FBI agent and he did backgrounds on Los Alamos employees as a private contractor. For some positions I think it was annual follow-ups. Even a DUI was to be reported by the employee and there was an investigation focused on substance abuse. When 9/11 hit, the FBI fell WAY BEHIND in doing follow-ups and now it’s mostly private contractors, like the guy in Santa Fe I know.

    Your point about teachers and students is a good one. Although, I doubt many school districts do routine follow-ups. Again, if a red flag appears they might follow-up on an employee. Maybe follow-ups are now required in some school districts? I’ve only had an initial one done on me when I was teaching, I’ve never done one on a teacher. Of course we’re talking about sexual predators, pedophiles, etc. It’s different w/ a university since the students are of age. I wrote here previously about a Catholic diocese who had a pedophile priest working @ a high school. They sent him for treatment and then sent him back to college to get his Phd. They realized the guy was incorrigible so their thinking was put him in a college setting where the students are all the age of consent. I know, it’s sick and twisted. The priest found victims in a parish church and the diocese paid big time dollars to the victims.

  22. nick,
    When I coached at a couple of different catholic grade schools, they did a background check on me and all the other coaches. I don’t know how deep they dug, but when students are involved, I think the duty on the employer is greater.

  23. blhlls,
    As I mentioned to nick, I had to go through background checks just to coach at a catholic grade school in Cook County in the 1980’s and again in the 1990’s in McHenry County. I would imagine that the teachers are scrutinized even closer, but that is an uneducated guess.

  24. raff, I totally agree w/ you. In a perfect world an employer put into a trust w/ children should do a complete background check, like the FBI does for security clearance. In your case, the school probably did a criminal background check w/ the State of Illinois. That’s bare bones but it costs money to do more extensive checks. I believe you’ve always lived in Illinois? So, in your case it’s more complete than someone who has lived in different states. An NCIS check would pick up criminal in other states, but I bet they didn’t do that for you. I’ve actually thought of volunteering my services to do background checks. There’s a community center I volunteer to tutor at risk kids. They did a Wi. state criminal check on me as they do w/ all volunteers and paid staff. That costs them $25. However, I’ve spoken w/ the director and she is uncomfortable w/ that limited background check. My trepidation is liability. Since I’m ~85% retired I have minimal coverage. I wouldn’t want to expose myself w/o higher limits. And higher limits cost a lot more. The director has hinted she would like some help on this, but to date I’ve not offered.

  25. If you are going to write a “creditable” article, the least you can do is spell the name of the university correctly. Especially if you are going to use the name in the title of your article.

  26. Millikin alumn, I’m sorry you didn’t include something more substantive in your comment. As someone who would have been affected had he not been hired, I would be interested in your views on this issue.

  27. I also had St. James while at Millikin. To say I was shocked by this news would be an understatement. He was a great instructor, and really had a way of drawing my interest. He was funny and kept every class entertaining and informative. The guy is brilliant. I have thought about this story quite a bit for the last few days.
    I believe that St. James should keep his job, and I am actually proud that Millikin did not take the easy way out. He has worked incredibly hard to turn his past into something positive. The people that did all of this research to bring up his past are just attention seeking jerks, who want their fifteen minutes of fame. Well, congrats…

  28. Fascinating story. While I am always ready to give a man a second chance in life, I would like to hear it from him first. From what I have read, he is considered somewhat narcissistic and will not talk about his past at all. Forgiveness should be offered to someone who confesses and asks for it, but what about for someone who has not asked, but has simply been found not guilty by reason of insanity? People say he has done nothing wrong since then, but how do we know? He could just be a smart serial killer now with the cover of being a professor. His field of study is behavioral psychology. That can be a really great way for a killer to hide his tracks. I’m not saying that’s what he is doing, but I would not assume otherwise without hearing from him about his past.

    Following is the account of the murders from the woman who broke this story, Ann Marie Gardner:

    The Murders

    In 1967, fifteen-year old James Wolcott lived with his family near Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. By all accounts, he was brilliant; he was an accomplished musician and had a voracious appetite for reading. His father, Dr. Gordon Wolcott came from a prominent New Jersey family and was the respected head of the Biology department at Southwestern. His mother Elizabeth was a vivacious woman from South Carolina, known for her participation in church circles around town. The fourth member of the Wolcott family was seventeen-year old Libby, a Georgetown High School class officer with a bright mind and a love of music. They were exceptional people living what seemed to be a typical suburban life.

    On the evening of Thursday, August 4, 1967, James joined Libby and some friends on a trip to Austin to see a show. They returned home about 10 pm and life in the Wolcott house appeared to be normal. By midnight Libby and Elizabeth had retired to their respective bedrooms, while Gordon read in the living room. Inexplicably, just after midnight, James, by his own account, sniffed some airplane glue “to give him a boost,” loaded a .22 long-barrel rifle, walked to the living room and shot his father twice in the chest. He then walked to Libby’s bedroom and shot her once in the chest, and when she fell he shot her in the face.

    Awakened by the blasts from the rifle, his mother Elizabeth called out from her bedroom. James then shot her twice in the head and once in the chest. He later admitted that he had decided to kill them a week prior and had made a plan the night before. Next, he hid the rifle in the attic crawlspace above the closet in his bedroom and ran out of the house toward University Avenue. Three college students traveling from Houston to Eden, Texas saw him there at about 1 am. James flagged down their car, crying that he needed help because someone had just shot and killed his entire family. Reluctantly, the three returned with James to the house to assess the situation. While James waited outside, the college students entered the grisly scene to find Gordon and Libby dead where they lay and Elizabeth barely breathing on her bed. According to police interviews, the students repositioned Elizabeth on the bed to make her more comfortable, called for an ambulance and the police, then waited outside with James. Later, in court, one of the students described James’ demeanor as “hysterical, pounding on the porch and wondering how this could happen.” None of the college students were entirely comfortable with the situation and they were hesitant to commit to any kind of empathy or reaction. Oddly enough, when they realized there might still be someone in the house with a weapon, they “high-tailed it out of there.” James, however, did not hesitate to go into the house with them.

    At approximately 3 am, Williamson County Sheriff Henry Matysak arrived on the scene, and was joined shortly thereafter by Texas Ranger Jim Riddles from Austin, and Williamson County Attorney Timothy Maresh. A family friend took a very distraught James to the hospital where his mother was fighting for her life. They were soon joined by another family friend, Reverend Wallace Chappell, pastor of First Methodist Church of Georgetown. Witness reports indicate that James was very anxious at the hospital and the Reverend asked the doctor to provide him with a tranquilizer, believing him to have been traumatized by the event. Upon receiving the news that his mother had died from her wounds, James simply said, “Thank you.” Reverend Chappell, a neighbor of the Wolcott family, took James back to the parsonage while the authorities processed the crime scene. Ranger Riddles and Reverend Chappell began reviewing the evening’s events with James who still maintained that “someone” had shot his family. According to his report, Ranger Riddles idly chatted with James about his activities with his father. Then he asked James directly, “Did you kill your parents, son?” With only a brief hesitation and a sigh, James replied “Yes, sir,” and went on to describe each of the shootings in detail. Although there are variations of the subsequent exchange, court and police reports agree that James indicated that he hated his parents, giving motive to his actions. After he was informed of his Miranda Rights, James stated he did not want a lawyer and was willing to show the investigators where he hid the rifle.

    James Wolcott was held in the Williamson County Jail in Georgetown until his trial.

  29. David,

    Are you the person to be confessed to…. Or are something best kept private…. Lets hear about your indiscretions…. No really don’t…. That was a joke…. I’m sure you walk on water… Ever read the lost books of the bible and the forgotten books of Eden….. Might open your eyes….

  30. Davidm2575,

    “. . . I would like to hear it from him first. From what I have read, he is considered somewhat narcissistic . . .”

    And did you read about his narcissism from him first? If not, why the opinion? Or is this a reflection of your own verbose narcissism? You really don’t sound all that open to, “hear[ing] it from him first.”

    “People say he has done nothing wrong since then, but how do we know?”

    How do “we” know anyone hasn’t done something wrong, David? Really, how do “we” know.

    “He could just be a smart serial killer now with the cover of being a professor.”

    Much the same could be said for anyone, David. You might just be a smart serial killer with the cover of future redemption guising your acts of social intolerance.

    “His field of study is behavioral psychology. That can be a really great way for a killer to hide his tracks.”

    Another great way to hide one’s tracks is to claim to know what god wants.

    “I’m not saying that’s what he is doing . . . ”

    Of course not, neither am I.

  31. davidm: I’m not sure that someone must respond to all comers about a painful past in order to be considered redeemed, or forgiven, or whatever we want to call it. He apparently confessed quickly and presumably underwent years of therapy. Does he really owe more to random members of the public who might enquire?

  32. It’s not a perfect comparison, but this story reminds me of another.

    I can’t recall the details, but there was a story about ten years ago of a man who had been wanted for murder for 25-30 years. He was found by accident and had been living quietly, never committing any crimes during that time. He was arrested and temporarily jailed, but never went to prison because of his age and lack of further criminal behaviour in the meantime. (Does anyone else remember that man, his name and city?)

    If a man wanted for murder isn’t sent to prison because of a lack of criminal acts, I don’t see why a man who *was* punished for his actions – and did not commit any others – should be punished a second time.

  33. This is a fantastic story. Fantastic, in the sense the of being bizarre and surreal. But there is too little information, yet, by which to draw a conclusion that James Wolcott “redeemed” himself.

    How do we know that Wolcott was not a psychopath, rather than someone who managed to meet the legal definition “insane” to some people’s satisfaction after he committed his triple family murder? He could just as easily have been a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, criminal, and amoral behavior, without empathy or remorse, who knew that what he was doing was wrong.

    Would he have committed the crimes if his parents did not have the amount of money that they did? There are literally hundreds and hundreds of crime cases that were cold-blooded murders and the motive in each case was to get the funds from an inheritance and/or insurance policies.

    There are also many, many fictions works with this theme. In the typical crime story, the person committing such a crime is highly intelligent and he invents a clever alibi for himself, and he/she often makes it look like the murders were accidents, or, perhaps, the cunning criminal develops an elaborate scheme to frame an innocent person for his/her crimes. Here, we could just as well have the same story thread, except this particular criminal is so clever that he convinces doctors, lawyers, the public, and judges that HE is the crazy one, and because of his “insanity,” he should not be held responsible for his crimes, ultimately enabling him to BENEFIT from those crimes. Ingenious, yes?

    Thus, given this limited information, we cannot determine if this is a story of “redemption” or simply an ingenious crime committed by someone without conscience. To blame the triple family murders on “glue sniffing” or use of other drugs is overly simplistic. My alternative scenario could just as well be true. If you slant to one story or the other, you are most likely projecting your own bias. Those who are “liberal” in their thinking will likely veer toward accepting the redemption theme. Those who are “conservative” may veer toward the “faked insanity” concept.

    I would be very interested in learning more about the case, how Wolcott’s past was discovered, what he did immediately after the murders, how he completed his education, his relationships with others, and so forth. With much more information, perhaps the truth will emerge.

    In closing, this story also reminds me of the well-done low-budget film called “The Stepfather” from the late 1980s, with Terry O’Quinn very convincingly portraying the lead character.

  34. With few exceptions, popular song lyrics falter without the song — kudos to anyone that has heard these:

    You can sing the blues in church
    If you use the words right

    The verses
    The words
    The meaning

    According to what you have
    On your heart

    But the start of it, well
    Even the bible will tell you
    Blessed is the pure in heart

    Some people have the blues
    So hard
    They go to the river
    And jump in a boat
    And drown themselves

    And some kill the wolf
    Cut each other so peculiar
    Do anything

    That you get in your mind
    And your mind tells you
    That you can’t
    Don’t try

    Think twice
    And speak once sometimes

  35. Not allowed to teach just because he had a small criminal record? Changed his name just to get by WordPress? When I was a human in a prior life I lived in the town in Missouri called Santa Luigi. They had this neighborhood set aside for Northern Italians called The Hill. You could not live there or attend Mass at the Catolic Church there if you were Sicilian. To avoid the discrimination the smart Sicilians told the rest of society that those folks living on The Hill were all Mafia. Oh, and don’t sniff any glue or allow your kids access to glue.

  36. David M makes a great plot for a Kellerman novel but although his is speculation, supposition, musing, I think the chances that he could have other non disclosed violent episodes would be more probable then someone without his past (not to say he has or hasn’t)

  37. blhlls wrote: “I’m not sure that someone must respond to all comers about a painful past in order to be considered redeemed, or forgiven, or whatever we want to call it. He apparently confessed quickly and presumably underwent years of therapy. Does he really owe more to random members of the public who might enquire?”

    No, not sure he owes it at all. I was just expressing my skepticism and doubt. When I read the details of what actually happened, that he had planned the murders a week prior to committing them, I felt more reserved about concluding what actually happened. I guess I have never liked the “not guilty by reason of insanity” defense anyway, so maybe I’m a little biased in that regard too. I guess the only thing my comments might convey is that *IF* he wants wide acceptance for the idea that he is not the same person he was when he was 15, he might consider engaging others about the incident. I don’t think he owes it to me, but when faced with a “no comment” response, I probably would not be comfortable having him be alone with my wife and kids. I doubt that such would ever happen anyway, so for me, it doesn’t really matter. However, there might be others in the community who have doubts like me.

  38. Having just read the complete news article, these additional facts make me very much doubt the “redemption” meme.

    To every one of the reporter’s questions, St. James answered only: “that was a long time ago…I don’t want to go there… I don’t really remember”.

    However, in his confession to police, Wolcott “went on to describe each of the shootings in detail. Although there are variations of the subsequent exchange, court and police reports agree that James indicated that he hated his parents, giving motive to his actions.”

    Wolcott “later admitted that he had decided to kill them a week prior and had made a plan the night before.” After the killings, “he hid the rifle in the attic crawlspace above the closet in his bedroom.” This screams premeditation to me, not insanity or psychotic break.

    For trial, the court determined that the then 16-year old Wolcott was competent to stand trial as an adult.

    There was no “proof” except Wolcott’s claims “that he had known for some time he was mentally ill.” During pre-trial medical evaluations, he claimed to have considered suicide the previous winter, stating that he was “just bored with it all.” According to court transcripts, Wolcott began sniffing airplane glue several months prior to the crime, contributing to what his doctors diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. However, prior to August 5, according to the family doctor, Wolcott had no history of mental illness, nor did anyone in his family. Nor was there any substantiation that Wolcott “considered suicide” or that he ever “sniffed airplane glue”.

  39. I think he should be ousted. At the very least, he LIED on his records because somewhere there is a question about criminal convictions. The fact that he changed his name does not change his past. I would not want him teaching my kids. Most universities will fire (even tenured) professors for lying on resumes. There should not be any 2nd chances for murderers. Sorry but I don’t give the guy a pass. He should be fired.

  40. Mitsy–there’s no evidence that he lied or concealed anything. there isn’t necessarily any question in the hiring process about past felonies. he’s somehow managed to teach for years without incident—that more than what he did many years a ago is better indication of his suitability to be in a classroom. You’d probably be surprised if you knew the complete history of everyone who ever taught you or any children you might have.

  41. Zari: Obviously, I was not at the trial. However, one recent account indicates that multiple psychiatrists and doctors testified and they all provided opinions supporting the “not guilty by reason of insanity” defense. The prosecution did not provide any expert testimony to the contrary. Texas had one of the less generous criteria for finding the defense true that many other states. As to his current unwillingness to discuss it, frankly, I would be more concerned about the mental health of someone who did want to discuss such a past with any stranger who raised the subject.

  42. Juvelines are prosecuted as such, with records guarded, so they can have a second chance. This is what we ask of them, and this is what James did. He has proven he is productive and now safe to be around. From a Millikin Grad, 1979.

  43. The Georgetown Advocate, a small fundamentalist Christian give-away paper isn’t too concerned about fairness or hearing differing opinions. Mrs. Gardner seems to be an anomaly as her journalistic credentials are a background in graphic design and being a 43 year old Army wife with a toddler. Since they declined to post my response, I’ll share it here. This is addressed to Mrs. Gardner.

    “This has been one of the most odious hack jobs of journalism I have seen in my 65 years. Your summation was unwarranted opinionated tripe and sermonizing.

    Whatever happened that night 46 years ago was horrific; patricide, matricide, and fratricide. Paranoid schizophrenia and glue sniffing with those murders would lead any jury to understand that he was insane and rightly found him so. Six years in treatment and yes, he was released a free man. Any additional punishments he carries is of his own devising and not the place of anyone else.

    You rightly point out that he had to leave everything he knew behind in order to build a new life because he knew it would be impossible to remain where he was. Yes, he killed his family, but it also killed all ties with family, friends, and the larger concept of home. It was a tragic event, no one disputes that.

    He changed his name, moved away, and rebuilt his life. Keep in mind he had undergone extensive therapy and had to confront the demons of what he had done and deal with that. To his credit, he succeeded well and founded an excellent academic career.

    What is unfortunate out of this continuing tragedy was your pursuit of him, much like Javert’s pursuit of Jean Valjean. The question of whatever happened to him is a question that quite frankly didn’t need to be answered as any fool would have recognized that unearthing him at this late date would serve no practical use except to titillate your local readers of National Enquirer, and in the end possibly destroy whatever he had become. Reading the furor and uproar on a national scale is sickening. Did you have any conception the further damage this research of yours could cause? All for the sake of supposed putting old legends to rest?

    No, this was a hatchet job from the get-go. You build a reasonable case that He was rehabilitated, he recovered, became a responsible and model citizen, and became a respected teacher of fine accomplishments. Then your summation reverts to pandering of the lowest sort and engages in yellow journalism by tossing a concrete block through the edifice you had created by casting doubt about his stability and that this 60ish man could become a ravening killer at the drop of a hat.

    The mayor of Decatur, IL, is pressuring the university to let him go, and he is now under scrutiny and abuse that is completely inappropriate. It is as though you are advocating to have this man branded on the forehead, stripped naked, and driven through the streets to become a pariah for evermore. If anyone should resign their position, madam, is it you who should slink away for abusing your position as an objective journalist and becoming a demagogue of the worst sort pandering to the fears and base emotions of your readers. You should be embarrassed and ashamed.”

  44. I did not realize this started out in the national Enquirer. If so. Robert, objective and journalist are 2 words not usually associated with that tabloid.

  45. Robert, if that is indeed what your name is, you need to think a whole lot more deeply than your disparagement of Mrs. Gardner indicates you have. This is not a loaf of bread that was stolen (as you compared Jean Valjean being pursued by the relentless Javert to this case) but three very precious lives that were taken brutally – two of those lives having created this man, Jim Wlcott who is not Dr. St. James. There is a HUGE difference between stealing a loaf of bread for your starving family and viciously attacking and taking the lives of each of your family members!! If there has been true repentance in his heart, it would aid the psychological sciences if this professor would now make that repentance known. As is represented in this forum, there would be ample forgiveness for a truly repentant heart. But the question remains – is that heart repentant or merely getting on with its own life as if nothing heinous ever happened in the past by his own hand. To witness brokenness rather than self-assertion is a very healing and cleansing experience. To witness pretense and a unwillingness to acknowledge this horrible lapse in a person’s life is to foster suspicion, fear, and even anger.

  46. Robert Wallis your letter was superb in making its case. So many in this country are tied to the notion of revenge and so few to redemption. Though some here pretend they are indignant about the murder of Professor St. James family by him, to my mind it is simple bloodlist on their part and a refusal to accept his legal punishment. By all accounts the man’s psychotic pathology has been dealt with. Is it so hard to believe that psychosis can actually be treated and that a 16 year old in a psychotic state could commit heinous crimes? Those who scoff at St. James rehabilitation would feel much more satisfied if he had been put to death. This should cause them to look into their own innerthoughts before they cast stones at others.

  47. TLB wrote: “Juvelines are prosecuted as such, with records guarded, so they can have a second chance. This is what we ask of them, and this is what James did.”

    I think he was tried as an adult, not a juvenile.

  48. Fran wrote: “If there has been true repentance in his heart, it would aid the psychological sciences if this professor would now make that repentance known. As is represented in this forum, there would be ample forgiveness for a truly repentant heart. But the question remains – is that heart repentant or merely getting on with its own life as if nothing heinous ever happened in the past by his own hand. To witness brokenness rather than self-assertion is a very healing and cleansing experience. To witness pretense and a unwillingness to acknowledge this horrible lapse in a person’s life is to foster suspicion, fear, and even anger.”

    Fran, excellent comment and analysis. You truly spoke for me here.

    I find this case truly fascinating. Dr. St. James could truly help us understand situations like this much better, especially with his expertise being in psychology. I think now he should write a book about it all, from the perspective of psychology. He would become a millionaire easily doing that, and the world would be better off because we will gain some better understanding of cases like this one. Imagine how many people would want to read a book from a professor of behavioral psychology who had murdered his family as a child. I think Ann Marie Gardner did him a big favor by bringing this to light. He should keep his job and start writing that book. His classes probably will be packed full from now on.

  49. I really don’t know how to feel about this man. but he should not be teaching or advising our youth. I just don’t get why is at the university. Maybe the university thought it was cool to have him on staff. Right boys!!

  50. You guys may want to look up the case of Chuck Limbrick, of Colorado. His story was featured on the series Lt. Joe Kenda, Homicide Hunter on the Discovery ID channel, with the title Shot Through the Heart. Lt. Kenda said that of all the 400 or so homicides he solved in his career, Chuck Limbrick was the youngest person he ever sent to prison for life. Here is a short YouTube preview of the program (the full length version can be purchased):

    The Governor first commuted Limbrick’s sentence, and then granted clemency. Limbrick was released in 2011 after serving almost 23 years. He has become a gospel singer with at least one studio-recorded album.

    The prosecutor and several others seem to be in favor of his release. I cannot recall reading or hearing Lt. Joe Kenda’s opinion. After all, he was the one who saw Limbrick’s mother laying in a pool of blood.

  51. Wow. Common sense has truly departed our society. I’m sure this man’s father, mother, and sister are all quite proud of everything he’s accomplished, especially after so much HE went through


  52. This article is disingenuous. Wolcott/St. James was found not guilty solely by reason of insanity. That means, he did the act(s) which constitute the crime, but did not have the requisite mental state. That he did not have the requisite mental state was due to his voluntary ingestion of glue. If this as a “tragedy”, it is a tragedy only to his victims and one of his own making.

    I cannot understand the logic which holds that learning trumps mass murder.

  53. SIX doctors evaluated Wolcott and found him not responsible for his actions due to insanity. If you bother to read about undiagnosed teen paranoid schizophrenia, (see NAMH website), you will find that it is often overlooked as typical teen “acting out”. Isolation, irritability, sleeping more, change of friends are symptoms. Substance abuse and suicidal thoughts/actions are common in schizophrenics. Auditory hallucinations and feeling that people are out to “get them” are typical – both present in Wolcott’s case. And while most schizophrenics are not violent, paranoid schizophrenics, if they do commit violence, tend to do so against family members and commit it in the home. Stop second-guessing the experts who oversaw his treatment and were actually aware of all the facts – which none of us are, not even the reporters, as witnesses are dead and medical records have been destroyed.

    Six years in treatment would have been ample time for a teen to learn how to manage his condition, work through his feelings and claim responsibility for his family’s deaths, and decide how to build a new life that honors their memory while making sure there is never a repeat of the violence that took them. I would say he has done those things, managing his illness, becoming a college professor like his father, making it his life’s work to understand the mind and what can cause mental processes to go terribly wrong, keeping a very structured, low-stress life-style, not dwelling on the past, and maybe most telling, not marrying or having a family. He has been attoning all along in his own personal ways, and staying out of all trouble, and THAT is a great success story. But this story served absolutely no purpose, no public good except to grab headlines for a two bit rag in TX with a DA and reporters looking to make a splash, and their biased handling of the story has way too many thinking they know better now, 46 years later and without all the facts, than the Drs, the Jury and the prosecutor.

    The State of TX released Wolcott in 1974 and dropped the remaining charges against him. He went on to finish college and legally change his name before moving to IL. In 2013, just because some muckrakers decided to run a sensational story exposing his horrific past, he does not owe them or any ambulance-chasers any explanations or tear-stained confessions. I hope there are serious repercussions for the Georgetown Advocate, which not only has deleted all postings criticizing the publishing of the articles, but has revised the content considerably over the past couple of weeks, deleting statements and adding excuses and explanations for their motives. They also have posted links to numerous sites that picked up the story, but refuse links to those articles that question their ethics in running it. That’s Texas for ya!

  54. beth jones wrote: ” not marrying or having a family…”

    This is a positive for you? Sounds like avoiding accountability and the typical solitary life of a psychopath to me.

    I still think the report was a very good thing, and that Dr. St. James should write a book. How intriguing a book it would be, a psychologist analyzing himself and telling of his life from the murders up to the present. It would be a way for him to give back to the community.

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