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Dave Schultz's murder, 20 years later

Dave Schultz
Twenty years ago today -- Jan. 26, 1996 -- Dave Schultz, gold-medal-winning wrestler, coach and goodwill ambassador for the sport, was murdered in cold blood by John du Pont -- multimillionaire and wrestling benefactor -- on du Pont's Foxcatcher estate outside Philadelphia.

At the time, Schultz's murder barely made headlines outside of eastern Pennsylvania. After all, it was two days before Super Bowl XXX (30), and most sportswriters and fans were focused on the NFL mega-event featuring NFC champs Dallas Cowboys vs. AFC title-winning Pittsburgh Steelers at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. outside Phoenix. (The 'boys won, 27-17.) In subsequent years, however, the shooting of Dave Schultz has received greater attention, in the form of a number of books, articles, an Oscar-nominated, major Hollywood movie ("Foxcatcher", released to most of America in early 2015), and an ESPN "30 for 30" documentary ("The Prince of Pennsylvania", which debuted on the sports network last October).

Schultz was head wrestling coach for du Pont's Team Foxcatcher. On that dreary, wintry Friday, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and three-time NCAA All-American was working on his car outside the home on the estate grounds where he, his wife Nancy and two small children lived. du Pont had his chauffeur drive to the house, where the heir to the du Pont chemical fortune fired three shots into Schultz. The killer then fled to the mansion on the estate grounds, where he was holed up for the entire weekend, keeping a SWAT team at bay, until they were able to flush him out by cutting off heat to the house and take him into custody.

A year later, there was a trial. du Pont pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity; the jury rejected that claim, but found him mentally ill, and convicted him of third-degree murder. He was also found guilty of assault for pointing the gun at Schultz's wife. du Pont died in a Pennsylvania prison in December 2010 at age 72.

The taking of Dave Schultz's life tore asunder the U.S. amateur wrestling community … doing damage that, in the minds of some individuals involved in the sport two decades ago, still has yet to be completely repaired.

Want to know more? Here are links to some articles …

  • InterMat's "The Life and Legacy of Dave Schultz: The Day Wrestling Died" -- First chapter of a multi-part series on the murder of Schultz, written to mark the tenth anniversary of the crime.
  • "History vs. Hollywood: Foxcatcher" -- Fascinating Q&A which answers dozens of questions about the accuracy of the "Foxcatcher" movie.
  • "Foxcatcher: True Story Fact and Fiction" -- Slate.com serves up a comparison of the movie to Mark Schultz's book.
  • "USA Today: Fact vs. Fiction" -- The national newspaper compares fact vs. fiction regarding the movie, asking the question, "What about the seven-and-a-half-years between the 1988 Seoul Olympics and Dave Schultz's murder?"
  • "The Twisted Saga of John du Pont" -- Washington Post article about John du Pont, from the day he murdered Dave Schultz until he died in prison.
  • "Schultz Brothers' Offer They Should Have Refused" -- British newspaper The Guardian compares real life to reel life as portrayed in "Foxcatcher", based on an extensive interview with Nancy Schultz.
  • "Film Odyssey: The Missing du Pont Factor" -- • A New Jersey author's analysis of the differences between the portrayal of John du Pont in "Foxcatcher" and what is known about his strange behavior throughout his life.

    … and links to books about the crime

  • "Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold" by Mark Schultz. 320 pages, published in 2014.
  • "No Holds Barred: The Strange Life of John E. du Pont" by Carol Turlington. 213 pages, published in 1996.
  • "Wrestling With Madness: John Eleuthere du Pont and the Foxcatcher Farm Murder" by Tim Huddleston. 48 pages.
  • "Blood Money: The Du Pont Heir and the Murder of an Olympic Athlete" by Carlton Smith. 269 pages, published in 1996.
  • "Fatal Match: Inside the Mind of Millionaire Killer John du Pont" ("True Crime" series) by Bill Ordine and Ralph Vigoda. 357 pages, published in 1998.

    … and a book from John du Pont himself

  • "Off the Mat: Building Winners in Life" by John E. du Pont. 115 pages, published in 1987
  • Comments

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    The Pope (1) about 3 years ago
    It was (is) all so sad - so unnecessary. Talk about a sould taken too soon...