January 28, 1996 in Nation/World

Du Pont Defies Police From Inside His Mansion

From Wire Reports
 

The bizarre standoff between multimillionaire John E. du Pont and police continued in a driving rainstorm Saturday as du Pont, a well-practiced marksman with a stockpile of ammunition, talked by telephone at least a dozen times to hostage negotiators but gave no indication he would surrender to face a charge of murder.

A force of 75 officers, including three SWAT teams, surrounded the mansion on du Pont’s 800-acre estate in this Philadelphia suburb for a second day after Friday’s slaying.

Although acquaintances said du Pont had grown increasingly violent and eccentric and fancied himself a sort of “dalai lama,” township Police Chief Michael Mallon said police knew of no motive for the shooting death of Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz.

Police Lt. Lee Hunter said police elected to wait out du Pont rather than attack for one reason: “We would be endangering the lives of our officers.”

“We intend to take as long as it takes to resolve this problem without any other people being injured,” Mallon said.

Du Pont, 57, owned a large cache of weapons and even a military armored personnel carrier, said his former business manager, Victor Krievins. There was no indication if the armored vehicle was still on the estate.

He once taught marksmanship to local police officers and equipped the force with bulletproof vests.

“We don’t know how many guns or how much ammunition he has,” said police Sgt. Brian McNeill.

The shooting occurred at about 2:50 p.m. Friday. Du Pont pulled up in his car and opened fire as Schultz was standing outside his home on the estate grounds, where he lived with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Hunter said.

Du Pont was accompanied by a bodyguard who was often at his side, according to two sources close to Nancy Schultz who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Nancy Schultz said that after she heard the shots and stepped outside the house, the sources said, Du Pont leveled the gun at her. She went back inside the house and called the police.

Du Pont then retreated to his mansion, about a mile away. It was not clear what the bodyguard did during the shooting or afterward, the sources said.

Police at the scene were unable to immediately confirm Nancy Schultz’s account.

As Saturday wore on, negotiators’ telephone contact with du Pont became more frequent and the conversations longer, sometimes lasting up to six minutes, Hunter said. He declined to provide further details.

Negotiations were going “very well,” he said.

Police also took a man and a woman up the drive but wouldn’t say if they talked with du Pont. Relatives, an attorney and friends volunteered to speak with him, but officers declined to let them, Hunter said.

Officers said du Pont had been seen in various rooms throughout the large house, a replica of Montpelier, James Madison’s house in Virginia.

Hunter said there is a warren of tunnels under the house, primarily large ducts for the heating and electrical system. Officers said the tunnels had exits beyond the house, and they were guarding those and all other exits.

There was no word on how much food du Pont might have in the house.

Schultz, 36, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1984, worked as a coach at du Pont’s 14,000-square-foot Foxcatcher National Training Center on the estate while training for a comeback at this summer’s Games in Atlanta.

The victim’s best friend, Dan Chaid, a wrestler who says du Pont threatened to kill him in October, said du Pont frequently carried a .38-caliber pistol on the estate and abused cocaine and alcohol.

“John was probably high on drugs and just got delusional,” Chaid said.

According to the wrestler’s coach at Palo Alto (Calif.) High School, tension had existed between Schultz and du Pont for a month or two, although Ed Hart did not know the reason.

Both Hart and Stan Abel, Schultz’ former coach at Oklahoma University, said Schultz was determined to stay despite the tension until after the Olympics, for financial reasons and because the training facilities were so good.

“He paid well,” Abel said.

Acquaintances, neighbors and relatives said du Pont had grown increasingly eccentric since his mother, Jean Liseter Austin du Pont, died in 1988, leaving him alone in the mansion.

“It’s like a Howard Hughes scenario,” said Martha du Pont of Greenville, Del., wife of du Pont’s brother, Henry. “He withdrew from his family and he surrounded himself with these strangers, moochers, people who have kept him from his family, fed him drugs.

“John thinks he has to buy his friends.”

She said her brother-in-law had taken to calling himself the “dalai lama of the United States.”

Chaid said he left Foxcatcher under threat of death after nine years on the estate.

“He crouched down in an attack stance, pointed the machine gun up at my chest and said … ‘I want you off the farm now,”’ Chaid said.

Police, he said, dismissed it as merely a sign of du Pont’s eccentricity.

Neighbors said he once drove two new Lincoln Continentals into a pond on his property, one after the other.

Gale Wenk du Pont, who was married to him for a year in 1983-84, said he had a violent streak, accusing du Pont in a 1985 lawsuit of choking her, threatening her with a knife and trying to push her out of his moving car.

Du Pont is a great-great grandson of E.I. du Pont, the French-born industrialist who founded the chemical company.

As one of hundreds of heirs to the family fortune, he was worth an estimated $46.2 million in 1985, according his ex-wife’s lawsuit.

MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition

Cut in Spokane edition


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