Teen pleads guilty in slayings of Dartmouth professors

Friday, December 7, 2001

HAVERHILL, N.H. (AP) -- The younger suspect in the Dartmouth professor murders pleaded guilty Friday to reduced charges, meaning he eventually could be paroled.

James Parker, 17, pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Susanne Zantop 11 months ago, when he was 16. He is expected to testify against his best friend and co-defendant, Robert Tulloch, 18, who is accused of murdering Zantop and her husband, Half, at their home.

Tulloch, charged in both deaths, would have no chance at parole if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

The plea deal was announced Monday. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 25 years to life in prison after Parker testifies against Tulloch, whose trial is scheduled for April.

Parker entered the plea in Grafton County Superior Court, where Judge Peter Smith asked if he was guilty.

"Yes, sir," Parker responded.

An arriving dinner guest discovered the Zantops' bodies in their study Jan. 27. Both had been stabbed repeatedly and had their throats slashed, and there was evidence they had fought back.

Police found two empty knife sheaths on the floor. They spent the next several weeks tracing sales of unusual military knives matching the distinctive sheaths, and learned Parker bought two of the SOG SEAL 2000 knives over the Internet.

On Feb. 15, investigators asked the teens to voluntarily provide their fingerprints. They complied, then fled hours later.

Following a nationwide manhunt, the teens were arrested Feb. 19 at an Indiana truck stop.

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