On August 4, 1967, 15-year-old James Gordon Wolcott grabbed a .22 long-barrel rifle and killed his father, mother, and 17-year-old sister in cold blood.

The rifle James Gordon Wolcott killed his family with

When asked what drove him to pull the trigger, Wolcott told the investigators that he hated his family.

Wolcott said he was tired of his mother’s loud chewing, his sister’s “bad accent,” and his father’s disapproval of Wolcott’s anti-war views.

The room where James Gordon Wolcott killed his parents

The teenager told the police that his father did not want him to drive to Austin to attend peace marches and felt as though his family was “conniving against him to drive him out of his mind.”

James Gordon Wolcott

Following a psychological assessment, doctors diagnosed Wolcott with paranoid schizophrenia.

At the end of the six-month trial, the jury acquitted Wolcott by reason of insanity. He was admitted to Rusk State Hospital on February 2, 1968, where he spent six years.

On August 4, 1967, 15-year-old James Gordon Wolcott grabbed a .22 long-barrel rifle and killed his father, mother, and 17-year-old sister in cold blood

Two years after his release from the hospital, Wolcott changed his name and vanished.

Nearly 40 years later, James Gordon Wolcott resurfaced as an award-winning professor of psychology!

Dr. James St. James

In 1976, after changing his name to James St. James, the teenager went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and joined Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.

Described as an “older hippie” by his colleagues, St. James has now been teaching at Millikin for over 30 years and won the college’s Teaching Excellence and Leadership Award in 1997. Soon after, Dr. St. James was offered the position of chairman of the Department of Behavioral Sciences.

After learning about the professor’s dark past, local officials, including the mayor of Decatur, were calling for his removal.

Millikin University campus
Millikin University campus. (CC)

Still, the university stood by St. James’ side and refused to let him go, stating that “given the traumatic experiences of Dr. St. James’ childhood, his efforts to rebuild his life and obtain a successful professional career have been remarkable.”

Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty, who learned about St. James’ past from the press, noted that Wolcott ended up being a professor teaching at a small university, just like his father.

“It seems odd to me that he hated his father enough to kill him but then he’s living his father’s life,” Duty said.

This mind-blowing story originally appeared in this year’s biggest true crime hit 365 Days of Crime.
From the death row inmate who sued the state for botching his execution, to a bank robber who gave the cashier his full name and address, 365 Days of Crime is the ULTIMATE true crime treat.