Dartmouth College faculty and students paused to remember two murdered professors at a small prayer gathering at a campus chapel on Monday.
As organ music played, about a dozen people prayed and meditated on the lives of Half and Susanne Zantop, who were stabbed to death in their home a year ago on Jan. 27.
“You really feel their spirits,” said Susan Wright, who knew the Zantops and is the wife of Dartmouth President James Wright.
Susanne Zantop, 55, was the head of Dartmouth’s German studies department. Her husband, Half Zantop, 62, was a member of the Earth sciences department.
“Susanne just was exuberant; she just was so alive,” Susan Wright said. “Half was rock solid. He was as steady and calm as she was ready to debate you.”
James Wright said the college community has changed in almost imperceptible ways since the deaths.
“We’re not as rich as we were before, but we are richer for all the things they contributed to the community and the world,” he said.
Wright said the prayer time was the culmination of a weekend of remembering the Zantops at several informal gatherings.
Two teenagers from Chelsea, Vt., are charged with murdering the Zantops. James Parker, 17, has pleaded guilty to reduced charges and agreed to testify against Robert Tulloch, 18, who plans to use an insanity defense at his April 22 trial.
Speculation about the motive is still a subject of curiosity in the Dartmouth community. But Dean of Faculty Jamshed Bharucha said that on Monday, the Zantops’ lives, not their deaths, were the prime subject.
“I hope that people will always remember the Zantops for the kind of people they were,” Bharucha said. “Obviously everybody is watching, but for the moment, our thoughts are with Susanne and Half Zantop, not with the case.”