Hippie Professor Kills Entire Family, Keeps Teaching Job

Hometown newspaper uncovers murderous past

August 8, 2013

Professor James St. James/Photo: Milliken University.
Professor James St. James/Photo: Milliken University.

Administrators at a private university in Illinois are standing by a psychology professor, despite his own admission that he shot and killed his father, mother and teenage sister in 1967.

Officials at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., said they would allow the psychology professor, James St. James, 61, to continue teaching, according to a statement provided to Campus Reform on Tuesday.

The professor’s murderous past came to light in a story published late last month by the Georgetown Advocate, the local newspaper in the town where the killings occurred.

After tracking down and interviewing the atheist professor, reporter Ann Marie Gardner described him as “the picture of a classic hippie: casual air, long pony tail, and a Grateful Dead sticker on his aging pickup truck.”

The crime and trial

The murders of the Wolcott family shocked Georgetown, Texas, then a small town with fewer than 5,000 people.

On Aug. 4, 1967, 15-year-old James Wolcott, sniffed some airplane glue to give himself a “boost,” walked into his family’s living room with a .22 caliber rifle and shot his father twice in the chest. He then walked to his 17-year-old sister Libby’s bedroom and shot her once in the chest. When she fell to the ground, he shot her in the face.

Awakened by the blasts from the rifle, his mother called out from her bedroom. James then shot her twice.

Wolcott shot his mother and sister in their beds/Photo: Georgetown Advocate.
Wolcott shot his mother and sister in their beds/Photo: Georgetown Advocate.

The horrific crime and subsequent trial received a great deal of media coverage for that pre-Internet era. Newspapers across the nation focused on the case for months, reported the Advocate.

Wolcott admitted to the killings at the time, telling Texas Rangers he “hated” his parents and that he planned the murders in advance. A classmate indicated in a pre-trial deposition that Wolcott’s father wouldn’t allow him to go to a peace rally, insisted that he cut his hair, and wouldn’t let him wear his anti-Vietnam buttons.

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