Loss still deeply felt on anniversary of murder

01/27/06 12:00AM By Steve Zind
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(Host) Five years ago today Dartmouth Professors Half and Susanne Zantop were murdered in their Etna, New Hampshire home.

Two Chelsea teenagers were convicted in the deaths. Robert Tulluch was sentenced to life in prison. His friend James Parker was given a twenty year sentence.

In Chelsea and at Dartmouth College, today's anniversary will pass quietly but not without notice.

VPR's Steve Zind talked with two people whose lives were deeply affected by the events.

(Zind) The pain caused by the murders is still there in both communities - the ivy league college and the small Vermont town where Tulloch and Parker lived. It lies just below the surface.

DeRoss Kellogg teaches at the Chelsea school. Kellogg says teachers and staff aren't talking about this week's anniversary.

(Kellogg) "They're aware of it, but no one's saying very much about it. I think it's one of those things that we'd rather forget than remember."

(Zind) Kellogg had both boys in his sixth grade class and saw them almost every day after that as they went to and from classes in Chelsea's K through 12 school. He says he felt particularly close to Tulloch.

Kellogg says after the events of five years ago, he recommitted himself to his students.

(Kellogg) "One thing I promise all my kids after they leave me, once they've left me they are my kids and I'll always be there for them. That was one of my driving influences to get involved when all this happened. It was a promise I had to keep."

(Zind) Kellogg has kept his promise to Robert Tulloch. He regularly visits him in prison. He declines to talk about their relationship today.

In the wake of the murders, Chelsea established an after school program in an attempt to provide supervision and direction for the towns school children.

Thirty miles south of Chelsea in a quiet spot on the Dartmouth campus there's a tree planted in the memory of Half and Susanne Zantop. There are other memorials: funds have been established by the college and by the couple's friends and family.

There's also the lasting effect of the Zantop's lives on those who were close to them.

History professor Annelise Orleck met the Zantops when she came to Dartmouth fifteen years ago. Orleck says the Zantops home was a meeting place where new faculty were welcomed to Dartmouth. She says she's tried to follow their example.

(Orleck Zantop) "They made is so clear that in order to have community you had to have people who do the loving work of building community, so yes, I try to have people over, I try to read my junior colleagues work in the way that Suzanne did."

(Zind) Orleck says many memories of the Zantops remain vivid after five years. And there are constant reminders.

(Orleck Zantop) "So many times an issue comes up that I remember sitting around their dining room table with a group of friends and just talking late into the night. They remain very alive."

(Zind) The events and experiences of five years ago have left scars in both communities.

Orleck struggles with the way the murders changed her view of the world.

(Orleck Zantop) "It challenged a lot of what I thought I believed about redemption and forgiveness."
(Zind) "Did it change what you believe about redemption and forgiveness?"
"Yes and no. It's a hard crime to forgive. And I wonder if, in fact, you cross a certain line beyond which exemption is not possible."

(Zind) Chelsea teacher DeRoss Kellogg will always be troubled by what he might have done to prevent his friend Robert Tulloch from committing the murders.

(Kellogg) "I'll always wish that I and others like me in the community had done more for him and Jimmy. Part of me thinks it could have been avoided."

(Zind) For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Steve Zind.


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