In the dead-heat of a summer's night, two
teenagers labored to dig a grave near an abandoned home in Vershire,
Vermont. Robert Tulloch and James Parker had already
targeted their victim, a homeowner who lived a few blocks away. They'd
never even met the man. But his house sat in a prosperous-looking
neighborhood on Goose Green Road, and the cars outside were new and
expensive. They planned to rob and kill him, then bury him in the grave
The two teens weren't satisfied with their upper middle class
existence. They needed money to go to Australia where they planned to
become "bad-asses," upper middle class slang for master
criminals. Since working for travel money was beneath them, they planned
to steal the money. According to later court testimony, "Tulloch
raised the idea of killing the people they attempted to steal from so
that there would be no witnesses to their crimes."
On the evening of July 19, the day after they dug the grave, the
teens dressed in black and armed themselves with Army knives, duct tape,
and zip ties. They drove to the home of their intended victim and cut
the telephone lines. Parker then hid in some bushes near the house while
Tulloch walked to the door and rang the doorbell.
They'd rehearsed for days. Now was the time to put their plan into
action. Tulloch planned to tell the homeowner that his car had broken
down. He would ask to use the telephone and, once inside, would pull his
knife and subdue the victim. When all was clear, Parker would enter the
house and the two would force the man to give up his credit cards and
PIN numbers. Then they would kill him. If there was a wife and children
at home, so be it--they'd have to die, too. "No witnesses,"
Tulloch had said.
But when the intended victim answered the door, the master criminals
were surprised. He was obviously suspicious and held a handgun in plain
Tulloch stammered out some lame excuse for interrupting the man, then
quickly left. Parker exited the bushes, tucked his tail between his
legs, and also fled.
Because the homeowner was armed, the Vershire murder didn't happen.
But a few days later, the Dartmouth murders did.
At noon, on July 27, 2001, Tulloch and Parker talked their way into
the home of Half (in German, Half means "help") and Suzanne
Zantrop. They brutally knifed the two Dartmouth professors to death,
stealing $365.00 and credit cards. But as the master criminals fled the
scene, they forgot their knife sheaths. Police quickly identified them
by their fingerprints.
Tulloch and Parker were captured a month later. On April 4, 2002,
Tulloch pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder and was
sentenced to life without parole. Parker plea-bargained his charge down
to second-degree murder and was given twenty-five years.
Why did the unidentified Vershire homeowner survive? Because he had a
How many other intended victims are never attacked because they
displayed a firearm? When criminologists James D. Wright and Peter
H. Rossi interviewed convicted felons in ten state correctional
systems, they found that nearly sixty percent stated that they would not
attack citizens that they suspected were armed. Guns save lives.
If not, this story would be about the Vershire murder instead of the
Robert A. Waters is the author of "The Best Defense: True
Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm".
For more information, to order a copy online, or to obtain an
autographed copy, go to