John List

Faith Mayhugh, staff writer

To most people, family is everything, the one thing you will always have. In this case, John List thought otherwise. John List was a son, husband, and father. He was a devout Lutheran and a Sunday school teacher and served in the U.S. Army. After his discharge in 1946 List earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in accounting. 

 In November 1950 the Korean War escalated, List was recalled to active military service in Virginia where he met Helen Taylor and her daughter Brenda. They got married on December 1, 1951, in Baltimore, Maryland. Then moved to Detroit and where their three children were born. Shortly after Helen became an alcoholic.

In 1960, Brenda married and left the household. List moved with the remainder of his family into a 19-room Victorian mansion in New Jersey, and that’s where List later killed his wife Helen, Mother Alma, and three children. He then proceeded to make himself lunch and went and closed his wife’s and his bank accounts. 

List placed the bodies of his wife and children on sleeping bags in the mansion’s ballroom. He left his mother’s body in her apartment in the attic. He then cut his own picture out of every family photo in the house, then fled. The bodies were not found until nearly a month later.

18 years passed and the show “America’s most wanted” made its debut. I bet you would never guess who they included in the first session; the one the only John List. Two weeks after the show he was busted.

On April 12, 1990, List was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, and sentence of five terms of life imprisonment, to be served consecutively, the maximum permissible penalty at the time.

List died on March 21, 2008, due to pneumonia.