Du Pont seized by police and held on murder charge after two day siege

 

THE eccentric millionaire, Mr John du Pont, was seized yesterday by police and charged with first degree murder after a two day police siege of his mansion in Newtown Square, Peansylvania.

A police team grabbed the inheritor of much of the Du Pont family fortune when he left his house to fix a water heater outside.

Heavily armed police had surrounded the 800 acre estate after the shooting on the grounds of Olympic gold medal wrestler, David Schultz, on Friday.

Police turned off heating at the country house, a device which helped trick him to come outside as temperatures dipped well below freezing.

The role in the homicide drama of Du Pont, who is one of the stockholders of the giant Du Pont chemical corporation, has shaken wealthy society on America's east coast.

He built the Delaware Museum of National History to house his collection of 66,000 birds and two million seashells, and constructed a lavishly equipped wrestling centre at the Pennsylvania estate to indulge his passion for the sport.

Mr Schultz, who won his medal in 1984, was shot three times in the driveway outside the Greek revival mansion at 3 o'clock on Friday afternoon. He lived on a separate house on the estate.

A police spokesman, Mr Lee Hunter, said heating in the house was turned off on Friday evening to put pressure on Mr du Pont to surrender, but he was allowed to sleep on Saturday night.

Yesterday morning he got a "wake up call" from police and negotiations resumed. Police moved spectators and media from the entrance to the estate and a windowless black van drove to the house.

About 75 police, including 30 tactical squad members, were involved in the operation.

"The hostage negotiators have been talking with Mr du Pont they know his mental state, his emotional state, they must have felt that's what he needed to continue to negotiate," Mr Hunter said, explaining why he had been allowed to sleep.

Referring to the last phone contact on Saturday, he said: "Mr du Pout was extremely cordial and positive." The suspect, an expert marksman and thought to be heavily armed, was seen moving about as late as midnight.

Police were overwhelmed by offers of help in ending the standoff from around the world, according to Mr Hunter.

Mr Schultz's wife, Nancy, and Mr du Pont's bodyguard, witnessed the shooting, and co operated with police.

Police said they had no indication of the motive. Mr Schultz had been training for a comeback at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

Neighbours said they often heard gunfire from the estate, where he had constructed a firing range for local police officers.