John List’s remains, other unanswered questions in final episode of ‘Father Wants Us Dead’ podcast

As an investigative reporter, you come up with a question, figure out who or what could best answer it, and you put in the work, following every lead until you get your answer.

But it’s rarely that simple.

And that was certainly the case when my colleague Jessica Remo and I were reporting for “Father Wants Us Dead,” our serial podcast about infamous New Jersey mass murderer John List. We wanted to know everything, from what his children were like as they grew into teenagers to what he was thinking as he committed this incomprehensible crime. What was going through his mind as he started a new life and hoodwinked his second wife, and as he grew old in prison – dying at a ripe old age, unlike his innocent loved ones?

But as we did interviews with investigators and friends, acquaintances and a relative of the List family, it was clear that there are still so many unanswered questions in this story. And along with that, so many rumors and stories have been repeated as facts over the years – including, perhaps most famously, that the Lists’ mansion had a priceless Tiffany skylight that could have saved the family from ruin.

The rear of Breeze Knoll, the List family’s mansion. At right is the ballroom with the exterior structure of a skylight visible on the roof.Provided by Westfield Police

In the final episode of our investigative true crime podcast, Remo and I set out to answer these questions. They range from the trivial – like what happened to the List kids’ pet dog? -to the biggest question of all: When you go beyond the self-serving explanations in List’s confession, his memoir and his psychological interviews, why did he do this unthinkable thing? It’s not about whether he believed what he was spouting, but whether those reasons were really the cause of the crime, or simply provided the rationalization that allowed it.

We also examine the rippling effect of these crimes in the Westfield area, something Remo understands well as a Union County native. It goes beyond the initial terror and sinister feelings that lingered after the crimes. There’s also the real, lasting loss and grief still felt by those who loved the Lists, or maybe just shared a pew with them on Sundays.

John List Photographs of Patricia, John F. and Frederick List that ran in numerous newspapers after their deaths in 1971.

Photographs of Patricia, John F. and Frederick List that ran in numerous newspapers after their deaths in 1971.The Associated Press

This grief was palpable when Remo and I interviewed these people, and it impacted us too. After a long talk with Patty List’s old boyfriend, Chris Day, I told Remo my fear that I had made things worse for him by bringing it up. But he said it was good to finally divulge these things he had been carrying for five decades.

I’m still not sure.

If you still haven’t listened to the earlier episodes of “Father Wants Us Dead,” I hope you’ll go back and listen now that they’re bingeable on our website or wherever you listen to podcasts.

We’re immensely grateful to all our listeners, who have logged over 1.1 million downloads and span the globe. Many have sent us their questions about the List story, so we’ll try to answer them in an upcoming bonus episode.

Chris Day

Chris Day, a former boyfriend of the late Patricia List, is interviewed by Rebecca Everett in Trenton, New Jersey June 21, 2021.Facebook Facebook logo Sign up for Facebook to connect with Michael Mancuso NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

All nine episodes of “Father Wants Us Dead” are available now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’d like to see photos, get more information about the episodes, connect with other listeners or with us, you can do so at fatherwantsusdead.com.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription. Rebecca Everett may be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button
CATAMARCA NEWS