Victim's DNA found on suspect's knives

by Mark Bubriski | 3/27/01 5:00am

Officials yesterday released some of the most damning information to date -- DNA from blood on two knives found in the bedroom of teenage murder suspect Robert Tulloch matched the DNA of Susanne Zantop, according to newly unsealed court documents.

Investigators found the two military-style knives suspected of being used to kill Susanne and Half Zantop in 17-year-old Tulloch's bedroom and tested latent blood, which matched DNA taken from the body of Susanne Zantop who was murdered along with her husband on Jan. 27.

One knife had a mixture of DNA from a second person but that person has not yet been identified.

The knives, found in a box under a stack of magazines in Tulloch's bedroom, were identical to each other and matched the type of sheaths found at the crime scene.

Additionally, contrary to a denial by the New Hampshire Attorney General, investigators did, in fact, find literature relating to the Third Reich, white supremacy, and the Ku Klux Klan in Tulloch's bedroom, the elder of the two murder suspects.

Though Attorney General Philip McLaughlin initially denied an ABC "Primetime" claim that Nazi literature had been found in Tulloch's bedroom, results of a police search show that officials observed in plain view several documents including literature, school essays and books, including "Der Fuhrer," which addresses Germany, Hitler and the inactivity of America during the Holocaust.

Ku Klux Klan material was also found plain view along with a notebook which appeared to contain notes regarding the surveillance of a building, and interactive computer games known to be violent.

Susanne Zantop had an entire bookcase in her Dartmouth College office devoted to the Third Reich and Nazi Germany. According to friends, she and her husband, both natives of Germany, felt that their home country should face up to its past.

The Zantops were found murdered in their home on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2001, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Germany. According to one document released yesterday, they died at approximately 10:30 a.m.

Prosecutor William Delker, however, clarified that authorities do not consider the materials they found in Tulloch's home to be neo-Nazi materials, saying they were more akin to historical document than racist advocacy.

"There were no neo-Nazi materials or Holocaust revisionist materials found in his bedroom, or anywhere, for that matter,'' he said yesterday.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who is in charge of the case, said that her office will not fight the release of any court documents filed at this point. Previously, the state had asked the courts to seal specific documents relating to the case.

"We've reassessed and made the decision to take no position on the release of the information," Ayotte said.

The search warrant inventory for the Tulloch home also showed that a Motorola Star Max 4000 computer, a Crossline computer and one CD were found. No other information about the computers or their contents were released.

A full affidavit by New Hampshire State Police Sergeant Robert Bruno for the arrest of suspects Tulloch and Parker, which is based on the officer's interviews with law enforcement officials who were at the scene on the evening of Jan. 27, 2001, was also released yesterday.

Other documents showed that a fingerprint on one of two knife sheaths found at the scene matched Parker's prints. The sheaths were consistent with those sold with two SOG Seal 2000 military knives, which Parker had purchased and which were found at Tulloch's home.

According to SOG Specialty Knives, the SOG Seal 2000 knife has a 7 inch blade and a 5.25 inch handle. The Seal 2000 comes with a unique Kydex sheath that is approximately 12.5 inches long and 2.75 inches wide at its widest point.

Parker confirmed to the police that he had bought the knives but said he then sold them to a man he did not know in a store in Burlington, Vt. on either the weekend of Jan. 20 or Jan 27, 2001.

The Bruno affidavit verified that two knife sheaths were found at the scene, both equipped with two black nylon straps and black plastic clasps. One of the sheaths had a "triangular marking carved into the front side of the sheath." At the time the affidavit was filed, no knives matching the sheaths had been recovered.

Parker told the investigators in a voluntary Feb. 15, 2001 interview in his home in Chelsea, Vt. that he had purchased the knives from Fox Firearms over the Internet with a money order for $180. He said he did not know the exact dates of the purchase or receipt of the knives.

Parker told police he received the knives by mail and brought them to his friend Tulloch's home, where they took the knives out of the boxes and discarded the shipping materials. He said the knives were delivered in "Kindex" sheaths.

Parker said he and Tulloch drove to Burlington "sometime over of the weekend of Jan. 20 or Jan. 27, 2001" to sell the two knives because they were "too big" and participate in rock climbing activities at an indoor rock climbing facility.

Parker said he entered an Army/Navy store in Burlington by himself with the intention of selling both knives to the store clerk. After he approached the clerk and displayed the knives, Parker said he was taken aside by an unknown store customer described only as a white male with brown hair and a five o'clock shadow.

The stranger asked Parker about buying the knives and the two negotiated the deal -- $60 each for the two knives. A $30 discount from what Parker initially paid for them.

The affidavit states that Sergeant Bruno and Vermont State Police Trooper Russell Hubbard made observations that Parker appeared nervous during this interview.

In an audio taped interview with police later that night, Parker added that he kept the two knives in his bedroom bureau prior to selling them to the stranger in Burlington.

Also, Parker's father told police that his son spent the day and night of the murders with Tulloch. Later, Parker could not recall his whereabouts on that day, at which time Parker's father indicated that he, too, could not be certain of his son's whereabouts on Jan. 27.

Meanwhile, Tulloch told police that he and Parker used the knives to cut branches in the woods and concurred that he and Parker believed the knives too big and decided to sell them. He could not recall the day that he and Parker went to Burlington to sell the knives, but verified Parker's statement that only Parker was the only one who entered the store. Tulloch said that Parker told him he sold the knives to an unknown customer.

Other documents show that when officers arrived at 115 Trescott Road in Etna, the Zantops' home office was "in disarray" -- papers strewn about, a desk chair on its side, a trashcan overturned, the rug partially uplifted and a table with a collapsed leg flipped over, next to the bloody bodies of Susanne and Half Zantop.

One affidavit also states that police found blood stains and partial footprints in blood on the floor in the living room area between the office and the front door of the home. Two more partial blood footprints were found on the exterior cement patio, and another in the snow where the exterior walkway reaches the driveway. One print matches Tulloch's left boot, police determined.

Forensic specialists were unable to identify a specific footwear and size based on the partial footprints.

The affidavit also states that investigators believed they had probable cause to believe that evidence relating to the murders could be found in Parker's mother's 1987 Audi, which was driven by Parker when he and Tulloch fled after police questioning.

The police believed the car might have contained the two knives, other objects capable of inflicting the injuries of death, footwear and footprints, footwear packaging and boxes, bodily fluids, blood, trace evidence, packaging for the knives, and correspondence between Parker and Tulloch.

The results of the search of the Audi were not available at press time.

Also, a regional telephone directory, which includes the town of Chelsea, was located on a desk in the Zantops' home office the day of the crime. The phonebook was open to the "T" section from "Tarleton, J." to "Tenny, Megan." A computer was on in the room. The screen displayed an online service used for searching names and/or address listings, but there were no names or addresses on the screen.

Police also seized the Zantops' two computers to be catalogued and obtained search warrants for their College offices, but the inventories of those searches were not yet available. Some other documents were likely to be released this week.