The two Vermont teenagers suspected of murdering Dartmouth College professors Half and Suzanne Zantop were apprehended by a clever sheriff’s deputy in Indiana early Monday morning.
Robert Tulloch, 17, and James Parker, 16, had been on the lam since Friday, when they were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing the Zantops to death in January. The boys were apparently out of money and traveled west by hitching rides with truck drivers after abandoning their vehicle in southern Massachusetts.
The teens’ fingerprints probably match those found at the crime scene, Orange County, Vt., Sheriff Dennis McClure said.
Investigators have yet to detail the boys’ alleged motive or their connection with the Zantops, although first-degree murder charges require an element of premeditation. Tulloch is a legal adult while Parker is a minor, but both will be tried as adults and could face life imprisonment without parole if convicted.
“We love our son, and we want the press to know that he is innocent until proven guilty,” Diane Tulloch told The Dartmouth, the college’s student newspaper, Monday afternoon.
Sgt. William Ward and two other deputies of the Henry County, Ind., Sheriff’s Department arrested Tulloch and Parker at a truck stop off of Interstate 70 in New Castle, Ind., at about 4 a.m. Monday.
Ward was routinely monitoring CB radio traffic when he heard a truck driver say he was carrying two passengers bound for California, asking for another driver to help them continue on their journey.
Ward had heard of the national manhunt for Tulloch and Parker earlier, and the trucker’s message set off alarm bells in his head.
“I just said, ‘Why don’t you drop them off at the fuel desk and someone will pick them up?'” Ward said.
Police then closed in on the teens at the truck stop and questioned them. They became even more suspicious when Tulloch said he was born in 1940 and would not provide a social security number.
The two teens, both residents of Chelsea, Vt., originally became suspects in the murders because one had purchased a military-style knife on the Internet, McClure said, although he declined to confirm the knife was the murder weapon.
Suzanne Zantop, 55, chaired Dartmouth’s German Studies Department while her husband Half, 62, was a professor of earth sciences. They were found dead in their Hanover, N.H., home Jan. 27.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report.