(November 22, 1938 December 9, 2010) was an heir to theDu Pont familyfortune, a convicted murderer, and an Americanphilanthropist. He had been a publishedornithologistphilatelistconchologist, sportsenthusiast, and self-styled wrestling coach. He died in prison while serving a sentence of 30 years for the murder ofDave Schultz.
In 1972, du Pont founded and directed theDelaware Museum of Natural Historyand contributed toVillanova Universityand other institutions.1In the 1980s, he established a wrestling facility at hisFoxcatcher Farmafter becoming interested in the sport and thepentathlonevents. He became a prominent supporter ofamateur sportsin the United States and a sponsor ofUSA Wrestling.
In the 1990s, friends and acquaintances were concerned about his erratic and paranoid behavior, but his wealth shielded him.2On February 25, 1997, he was convicted ofmurder in the third degreefor the January 26, 1996, shooting death ofDave Schultz, an Olympic championfreestyle wrestlerliving and working on du Ponts estate. He was ruled to have been mentally ill but not insane and was sentenced to prison for 13 to 30 years. He died in prison at age 72 on December 9, 2010. He was the only member of theForbes 400richest Americans ever to be convicted of murder.
John du Pont was born on November 22, 1938, inPhiladelphiaPennsylvania, the youngest of four children ofWilliam du Pont, Jr.and Jean Liseter Austin (18971988). He grew up at Liseter Hall, a mansion built in 1922 inNewtown Square, Pennsylvania, by his maternal grandfather on more than 200 acres of land given to his parents at their wedding by his maternal grandfather.3Both his parents families had emigrated from Europe to the United States at the beginning of the 19th century and became highly successful.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the couple acquired more land and developed Liseter Hall Farm for Thoroughbred breeding, showing, and racing. His mother retained Liseter Hall Farm after the couple divorced in 1941. She added a dairy herd ofGuernseysand bredWelsh poniesat the farm. John was 2 when his parents divorced. He had two older sisters, Jean and Evelyn, an older brother Henry E. I. du Pont, and a younger half brother, William du Pont III, born of their fathers second marriage.
Du Pont graduated fromHaverford Schoolin 1957. He attended theUniversity of Pennsylvaniawhere he belonged to theZeta Psifraternity, and withdrew before completing his freshman year.4Du Pont later attended college inMiami, Florida, where he studied under and was mentored by scientist Oscar T. Owre.5He graduated from theUniversity of Miamiin 1965 with aBachelor of Sciencedegree inzoology. Du Pont went on to complete adoctoratein natural science fromVillanova Universityin 1973.6
During his graduate work, du Pont participated in several scientific expeditions to study and identify species of birds in the Philippines and South Pacific. As anornithologist, du Pont is credited with the discovery of two dozen species of birds.7He founded theDelaware Museum of Natural Historyin 1957.8As a young man, he served on the board, helping guide the institution toward opening in 1972. After having been part of scientific expeditions, he served as director of the museum for many years.9
At the age of 45, on September 3, 1983, du Pont married 29-year-old Gale Wenk, an occupational therapist. They met after he injured his hand in an auto accident.10They lived together for less than six months.11Du Pont filed for divorce when they had been married for ten months. Wenk sued du Pont for $5 million, claiming he had pointed a gun at her and tried to push her into a fireplace.10The divorce became final in 1987.11Du Ponts will excluded her from inheriting any of his estate.12In 1987, it was estimated that John du Pont was worth $200 million.13
Du Pont was also aphilatelist. Bidding anonymously in a 1980 auction, he paid $935,000 for one of the rarest stamps in the world, theBritish Guiana18561c black on magenta.14After his death, this stamp was sold at auction for $9.5 million (inclusive of buyers premium) at Sothebys June 17, 2014. For the fourth time, the stamp broke the record for a single stamps sale.15The unique stamp was part of the estate of du Pont. According to du Ponts willunsuccessfully challenged by several parties80 percent of the sale proceeds go to the family of Bulgarian wrestlerValentin Jordanov Dimitrovand 20 percent goes to the Eurasian Pacific Wildlife Foundation, based in Paoli, Pennsylvania, a group du Pont founded to support Pacific wildlife.15In 1986, competing as John Foxbridge, he won the Grand Prix dHonneur in theFIPChampionship Class at theSTOCKHOLMIA 86internationalstamp exhibitionfor his display of British North America.16While du Pont continued to buy stamps while in prison, he was not allowed to bring them there.17
After his mothers death, du Pont developed the 440-acre (1.8km2) Liseter Hall Farm inNewtown Squareas a high-quality wrestling facility for amateur wrestlers.18He called the private group Team Foxcatcher, after his fathers noted racing stable. Du Pont established an Olympic swimming and wrestling training center and sponsored competitive events at the estate. He also allowed some people, such as Olympic champion wrestlersMark Schultzand later his older brotherDave Schultzand his wife, to live in houses on the grounds for years. Dave Schultz also coached the Foxcatcher team.
Du Pont became a sponsor in wrestling, swimming, track, and themodern pentathlon. He was also involved in promoting a subset of the modern pentathlon (run, swim, shoot) as a separate event.1920He took up athletics and became a competitive wrestler in his 50s. His only prior wrestling experience was as a freshman in high school. He began competing again at the age of 55 in the 1992 Veterans World Championships inCaliColombia; following that in 1993 inTorontoOntario; in 1994 inRomeItaly;21and in 1995 inSofiaBulgaria.
In August 1988, a problem-plagued wrestling program he funded at Villanova was shut down after just two years. In December 1988, a lawsuit (which was settled out of court) claimed du Pont had made improper sexual advances to Villanova assistant coach Andre Metzger.22
On January 26, 1996, du Pont shot and killedDave Schultzin the driveway of Schultzs home on du Ponts 800-acre (3.2km2) estate. Schultzs wife Nancy and du Ponts head of security Patrick Goodale were present and witnessed the crime. The security chief was sitting in the passenger seat of du Ponts car when du Pont fired three bullets into Schultz. Police did not establish a motive. Schultz had worked with du Pont to coach the wrestling team for years.2
Du Ponts friends said the shooting was uncharacteristic. Joy Hansen Leutner, a triathlete fromHermosa Beach, California, lived for two years on the estate.23Leutner said du Pont helped her through a stressful period in the mid-1980s. She later said, With my family and friends, John gave me a new lease on life. He gave more than money; he gave himself emotionally. She expressed incredulity about the killing. She is quoted as saying: Theres no way John in his right mind would have killed Dave.2Newtown Townshipsupervisor John S. Custer Jr. said, At the time of the murder, John didnt know what he was doing.24Charles King, Sr., a du Pont stable hand and manager for 30 years, claimed he knew du Pont well throughout his life. Kings son, Charles Chuckie King Jr., said he considered du Pont his friend during his childhood.
Many people had noticed du Ponts increasingly disruptive behavior in the months before the murder.23Charles King Sr. blames du Ponts security consultant, Patrick Goodale, for influencing what happened. King said, I dont think John could shoot someone unless he was pushed to, or was on drugs. After that guy started hanging around him, my son always said Johnny changed. He was scared of everything. He was always a little off. But I never had problems with him, and my son never had problems.24After the shooting, du Pont locked himself in his mansion for two days while he negotiated with police on the telephone. Police turned off his power and were able to capture him when he went outside to fix his heater. In September 1996, du Pont was ruled incompetent to stand trial, as experts testified that he waspsychoticand could not participate in his own defense. He was committed to a mental hospital and his condition was to be reviewed by the court in three months.25
During the trial, one of the defenses expertpsychiatricwitnesses described du Pont as aparanoid schizophrenicwho believed Schultz was part of an international conspiracy to kill him.26He said du Pont believed people would break into his house and kill him, and that he had installed a variety of security features in his house.26
Du Pont pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The insanity defense was thrown out by the court, and on February 25, 1997, a jury found him guilty ofthird-degree murderbutmentally ill.27In Pennsylvania, third-degree murder is a lesser charge than first-degree (intentional) or second-degree (a passionate killing or a killing occurring during the perpetration of a felony), and indicates a lack of intent to kill. In Pennsylvania criminal code, insanity applies to someone whose disease or defect leaves him unable either to understand that his conduct is wrong or to conform it to the law (The MNaghten Rule).28
The jury verdict of guilty but mentally ill meant the sentencing would be referred to the judge, Patricia Jenkins. She could have sentenced du Pont to 5 to 40 years. Du Pont was sentenced to 13 to 30 years incarceration and was housed at theState Correctional Institution Mercer, a minimum-security institution in the Pennsylvania prison system.29Du Pont was initially confined toCresson Correctional Institute.3Following the guilty verdict, Nancy Schultz, Daves widow, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against du Pont. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing anonymous sources, reported du Pont was to pay Schultz at least $35 million.30
Du Ponts attorneys filed appeals. In 2000, his case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict. Du Pont was first eligible for parole on January 29, 2009; it was denied. Du Ponts maximum sentence would have ended on January29, 2026, when he would have been 87.31In 2010, the 3rd Circuit U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia rejected all but one issue raised on appeal (involving his use of a Bulgariancitation neededprescription drug,scopolamine, before he fatally shot Schultz in 1996), and requested written briefs.32
Du Pont died at the age of 72 on December 9, 2010, fromchronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD). A spokesperson for thePennsylvania Department of Correctionssaid du Pont was found unresponsive in his bed at theState Correctional Institution Laurel Highlands. He was pronounced dead at 6:55a.m. atSomersetCommunity Hospital.133He was buried in his red Foxcatcherwrestling singlet, in accordance with his will, at the Du Pont de Nemours Cemetery inWilmington, Delaware.34
Du Pont founded theDelaware Museum of Natural Historyin 1957, which opened to the public in 1972 on a site nearWinterthurdonated by his relativeHenry Francis du Pont. John du Pont served on the board for many years. He also helped fund a newbasketballarena atVillanova University, which opened in 1986. Originally it was called the John Eleuthre du Pont Pavilion, but after his conviction, his name was removed from the facility and simply calledThe Pavilion. Today the facility is named The Finneran Pavilion.
After his mothers death in 1988, du Pont assumed stewardship of Liseter Farm and renamed it Foxcatcher Farm after his fathers famedThoroughbredracing stable.35John never lived in the manor house; he occupied a smaller house on the estate. Days after his mothers death, he moved into the main house.36He maintained much of her work, but added a wrestling facility and supporting buildings for that interest.
After his arrest, du Pont sold off the dairy herd, nearly 70Guernseys, in the fall of 1996. He ordered all the buildings at Foxcatcher Farm to be painted a matte black. The Delaware Museum of Natural History, which du Pont formerly headed and which held the dairy farm in trust, sold that portion in January 1998 after his conviction and sentencing to prison. A 123-acre (0.50km2) segment is now occupied by the campus of theEpiscopal Academy, a private independent K12 school founded in 1785, which moved there in 2008 from split campuses located in the nearbyPhiladelphia Main Linecommunities ofMerionandDevon.37The 90-year-old du Pont mansion, Liseter Hall, in which du Pont was raised and had lived for 57 years, was demolished by Glenn Miller Demolition in January 2013.38The mansion stood on a 400-acre (1.6km2) portion of the property that is now being developed byToll Brothersinto a master planned community of 449 luxury homes called Liseter Estate.39Most of the outbuildings were torn down, though an existing 7,000-square-foot historical barn will be used as a clubhouse in the new development.
Du Pont had been worth an estimated US$200 million in 1986, about $460million in current dollars.40His will bequeathed 80 percent of his estate toBulgarianwrestlerValentin Yordanov, an Olympic champion who had trained at Foxcatcher,41and Yordanovs relatives. In June 2011, du Ponts niece Beverly A. du Pont Gauggel and nephew William H. du Pont filed a petition to challenge the will inMedia, Pennsylvania, asserting that du Pont was notof sound mindwhen he made his will. The petition claims that during that period, John du Pont asserted alternately that he wasJesus Christ, theDalai Lama, and a Russiantsar.42
That petition was dismissed, and while appealed, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has upheld a Delaware County Orphans Court order dismissing a challenge on the will on November 19, 2012.43Former Delaware County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Joseph Cronin dismissed the challenge for lack of standing, finding that because the niece and nephew were not named in two successive wills going back to 2006, they would not be harmed if the September 2010 will were deemed valid. A three-judge panel of the Superior Court affirmed that ruling on November 19, 2012.43
Du Ponts murder of Dave Schultz is recounted in the 2013true crimebook
directed byBennett Miller, was based on the events related to the Schultz brothers and exploring John du Ponts relationship with them. For his portrayal of du Pont,Steve Carellwas nominated for theAcademy Award for Best Actor.
Olympic Wrestling ChampionMark Schultz, the younger brother of Dave Schultz, wrote
Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brothers Murder, John du Ponts Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold
ESPN Filmsfeatured the story of du Pont and Team Foxcatcher in the 201530 for 30series film
. The film featured several former members of the Foxcatcher wrestling team, including Mark Schultz, as well as John du Ponts ex-wife Gale Denny and Mark and Dave Schultzs parents. The film, which was directed by Jesse Vile, premiered on October 20, 2015, and got its title from a letter Dave Schultz wrote toPrince Albert of Monacorejecting his proposal for Schultz to become the coach of a wrestling team in Monaco.
Netflixproduced the 2016 film documentary entitled
which tells the story of John du Ponts involvement with wrestling andFoxcatcher Farmusing interviews with many of those present as well as archival footage.
Living Volutes: a Monograph of the RecentVolutidaeof the World
Amadon, Dean; Dupont, John E (1970).Notes on Philippine birds.
Dupont, John E (1971).Notes on Philippine Birds (No. 1).
Dupont, John E (1972).Notes on Philippine Birds (No. 2). Birds of Ticao.
Dupont, John E (1972).Notes on Philippine Birds (No. 3). Birds of Marinduque.
Dupont, John E (1976).Notes on Philippine Birds (No. 4). Additions and Corrections To Philippine Birds.
Dupont, John E (1980).Notes on Philippine birds (No. 5). Birds of Burias.
Dupont, John E; Rabor, D S (1973).South Sulu Archipelago Birds. An Expedition Report.
Dupont, John E; Rabor, D S (1973).Birds of Dinagat and Siargao, Philippines.
Dupont, John E; Niles, David M; (1980).Redescription of
Jer Longman (December 9, 2010).John E. du Pont, Heir Who Killed an Olympian, Dies at 72.
John E. du Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune whose benevolent support of Olympic athletes deteriorated into delusion and ended in the shooting death of a champion wrestler, died Thursday in a western Pennsylvania prison. He was 72. Mr. du Pont was found unresponsive in his cell atLaurel Highlands State Prisonnear Somerset, Pa., a prison spokeswoman told The Associated Press. …
Longman, Jere; Belluck, Pam; Nordheimer, Jon (February 4, 1996).For du Pont Heir, Question Was Control.
Last hurrah for historic Liseter Hall Farm. Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. September 2005. Archived fromthe originalon July 26, 2011.
Bowden, Mark; Bensen, Clea (February 4, 1996).The Prince Of Newtown Square John Du Pont Had Millions But Lacked The Thing He Really Wanted: Expertise. So He Spent Money To Make It Look As If He Had It. Philadelphia Media Network (Digital) LLC
James A. Kushlan MEMORIAM: OSCAR T. OWRE, 19171990
DuPont heir dies in prison. UPI. December 9, 2010
Newsweek staff.AN ECCENTRIC HEIRS WRESTLE WITH DEATH.
The Curse of the Labrador Duck: My Obsessive Quest to the Edge of Extinction
Hewitt, Bill (February 12, 1996).A Man Possessed.
Last Will and Testament of John Eleuthere du Pont
. September 16, 2010. Archived fromthe original
Foxcatcher fodder: John du Ponts bizarre downfall. Courierpostonline.com. January 11, 2015
Lucys Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einsteins Brain: The Remarkable Stories Behind the Great Artifacts of History, From Antiquity to the Modern Era
Stamp owned by Delaware murderer John du Pont sells for $9.5 million. Delawareonline.com. June 18, 2014
The Three Previous Stockholmia World Philatelic Exhibitions by Bengt Bengtsson,
May 29, 2015, at theWayback MachineThe Stamp Blog, March 15, 2015
The Value of Open Space, Save Open Space, Everything Old is New Again.
. April 1999. Archived fromthe originalon February 8, 2011.
Alice Higgins (August 28, 1967).Trials Of A Busy Pentathlete: Young John du Pont, host to the national championships, found that organizing the event could be a handicap for a dedicated competitor.
, Newtown Square Historical Preservation Society
SILVERBACKS: 1994 Masters 3rd Freestyle Wrestling World Championships.
John Greenwald (February 5, 1996).Blood on the Mat: The killing of an Olympic gold medalists suggest that John du Pont, patron of wrestling, was no angel.
Randy Harvey (January 31, 1996).Signposts to a Tragedy Du Pont Heir.
J.F. Pirro (January 12, 2007).In Memory of a Murder.
Du Pont Is Ruled Incompetent for Trial in Killing of Wrestler.
Vigoda, Ralph; Ordine, Bill.Defense Doctors: Du Pont Feared He Was Target Of Conspiracy He Worried About The Russians, One Said. Then He Decided The Threat Was At Home.
CNN(February 25, 1997).Du Pont guilty but mentally ill in Olympic wrestlers murder
April 18, 2009, at theWayback Machine, Onecle, Crimes And Offenses 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Pennsylvania Statutes
Heir Sentenced Up to 30 Years For Killing of Olympic Wrestler.
What Ever Happened to: Imprisoned Chemical Heir John du Pont?.
(August 7, 2008). Retrieved on March 16, 2013.
Circuit Wont Hear Arguments on Du Pont Millionaires Last Round of Appeals,
Du Pont heir dies in prison. United Press International. December 9, 2010
Du Pont fortune heir John E. du Pont, convicted of the 1996 murder of Olympic wrestler David Schulz, died of natural causes, Pennsylvania prison officials said. He was 72. Corrections spokeswoman Sue Bensinger said du Pont was found unresponsive in hisLaurel Highland State Correctional Facilitycell in Somerset County Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Bensinger said he had been ill for some time.
Mari A. Schaefer (February 16, 2011).John du Pont was buried in his wrestling singlet.
Michael Yockel (September 2005).Last hurrah for historic Liseter Hall Farm. Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. Archived fromthe originalon March 25, 2012
When Life In The Du Pont Mansion Began To Crumble At Foxcatcher, The Obsessions Of The Son Quickly Overrode His Dead Mothers Blueblood Elegance. Articles.philly.com. December 10, 2010
Gammage, JeffEpiscopal Academy prepped for big change Expansion trumps angst over move from Merion,
Bannan, PeteHistoric DuPont mansion goes under the wreckers ball
Liseter Estate at Route 252 and Goshen Road in Newtown Square to be Developed by Toll BrothersPRWeb, November 20, 2012
Famous Wrestlers from the National Sports Academy (in Bulgarian).National Sports Academy Vasil Levski
Alex Rose (June 15, 2011).Du Pont Relatives Contest Validity of Late Killers Will. Delaware County Daily Times. Archived fromthe originalon March 11, 2012
Superior Court: Du Pont relatives have no standing to contest will. Main Line Media News. December 6, 2012.
Wrestling With Madness: John E. Du Pont and the Foxcatcher Farm Murder. Absolute Crime
Full List of the Oscar Nominations 2015. Award Show Talk. 2015.
Mark Schultz; David Thomas (November 18, 2014).
Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brothers Murder, John du Ponts Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold
Strauss, Chris (November 14, 2014).Where are the missing seven years in Foxcatcher?.
John E du Pont video Foxcatcher Farm – 1988Documentary including footage of du Pont at his estate and at the Foxcatcher training facility.
Hendrickson, John.Turns Out That Sad Propaganda Video from Foxcatcher Was Real.
News coverageJanuary 2629, 1996 onABCCBSCNN; 16 minutes. About the murder and the immediate aftermath.
Articles with unsourced statements from September 2015
Articles with dead external links from January 2019
Wikipedia articles with WorldCat-VIAF identifiers
This page was last edited on 8 July 2019, at 03:34