Killer of Family Gets 5 Life Terms : Court: Judge sentences accountant who murdered his mother, wife and children 18 years ago to the maximum sentence.

From Associated Press

John E. List, the Sunday school teacher who methodically murdered his family 18 years ago, was sentenced today to five life terms to be served consecutively--the maximum penalty.

List, who did not take the stand during his trial, broke his silence but refused to take responsibility for his crimes.

“I wish to inform the court I remain truly sorry for the tragic events of 1971,” List said in a strong voice, staring straight ahead.

“I feel that because of my mental state at the time, I was unaccountable for what happened. I ask all affected by this for their forgiveness, understanding and prayer.”


Superior Court Judge William Wertheimer, however, said that in the names of the murdered family, he was giving List the stiffest sentence he could.

“John Emil List is without remorse and without honor,” Wertheimer said. “After 18 years, five months and 22 days, it is now time for the voices of Helen, Alma, Patricia, Frederick and John F. List to rise from the grave.”

As the judge left the bench, the courtroom, filled with about 125 people, erupted in applause.

List was convicted April 12 of murdering his wife, Helen, 46; mother Alma, 84; daughter Patricia, 16, and sons John, 15, and Frederick, 13.

Because of the former accountant’s attention to detail in carrying out the slayings, the bodies remained in their 18-room Westfield home for almost a full month before they were discovered--from Nov. 9, 1971, until Dec. 7.

In the interim, List left New Jersey, changed his name and began a new life as Robert P. Clark. He eventually remarried, and worked as an accountant first in the Denver area and later near Richmond, Va.

His second wife, Delores Clark, said she was unaware of his past.

List was arrested last year after a television show re-enacted the crime.