Criminal Justice

Found not guilty by insanity for killing his family in 1967, defendant is now a college prof


Jim Wolcott left the town of Georgetown, Texas, and seemingly disappeared after a jury declared him sane in 1974.

He had been found not guilty by reason of insanity just six years earlier for the 1967 shooting death of his father, a biology professor, and was never tried for the shooting deaths of his mother and 17-year-old sister, according to a story by the Georgetown Advocate. Wolcott, who was just 15 at the time of the crime, reportedly admitted the crimes to a police officer, saying he hated his parents.

According to reports filed with the court, Wolcott believed his family was trying to drive him insane or to destroy him, and he wanted to kill them before they got to him. He complained to one doctor that his mother chewed her food too loudly and his sister had a bad accent. He had been sniffing airplane glue for several months, contributing to his paranoid schizophrenia, experts concluded.

Today Jim Wolcott is 61 years old, according to the Georgetown Advocate and the Chicago Sun-Times (reg. req.). He has a new name—James St. James—and a respected position as chair of the psychology department at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. He obtained a doctorate from the University of Illinois and has taught at Millikin for 27 years.

The college said in a statement released on Thursday that it was only recently made aware of the professor’s past. “Given the traumatic experiences of his childhood, Dr. St. James’ efforts to rebuild his life and obtain a successful professional career have been remarkable,” the university said.

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