Dave SchultzTwenty 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 …
… and links to books about the crime
… and a book from John du Pont himself