College Professor and Two Sons Found Dead in Apparent Double Murder-Suicide

March 5, 2018 Updated: March 5, 2018

A renowned political expert and his two sons were found dead in their home in an apparent murder-suicide on Saturday, March 3.

Police from Winnebago County, Illinois, found the bodies of Peter Ruckman, 58, and his two sons, Christopher, 14, and John, 12, each in their own bedroom with gunshot wounds, reported 23WIFR.

Ruckman’s ex-wife, Heidi Ruckman, had requested police conduct a welfare check because she had not heard from the boys in a few days.

“[She] hadn’t heard from them for a couple days and it was her weekend for custody of the kids,” said Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chief Mike Schultz, reported

The couple filed for divorce in July 2017 and have since shared custody of the children.

Detectives believe that the Ruckman killed the two boys before turning the gun on himself.

“We don’t know exactly what the mental state [was] or if there’s been a history of mental illness or issues with the family,” said Schultz.

“We’ve gotten no reports of prior domestic violence from this address or from the people involved so this is something that appears to have come just out of the blue,” he added.

According to 23WIFR, neighbors said that Peter Ruckman was quiet and kept to himself.

“Neighbors describe the two boys as good kids, saying the older one was an outstanding musician, often traveling to Memphis to play with bigger bands and the younger one being a great baseball player,” Schultz said.

Peter Ruckman was a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Illinois and instructor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

The college professor’s area of focus was presidential pardons, and had written two books on the subject: “Pardon Me, Mr. President: Adventures in Crime, Politics and Mercy” and “The Pardon Power in the 21st Century.” He was also editor of, a blog following the latest news in the pardon power.

As an expert in the field, Ruckman was often used as a source for media outlets.

He appeared on major networks, including PBS, and MSNBC, and has been quoted in numerous national and international publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Independent (UK).

Ruckman had been a professor at Rock Valley College for nearly two decades.

23WIFR reported that the President of Rock Valley College Dr. Doug Jensen said in a statement: “The Rock Valley College community is devastated by the news of the tragic deaths of Peter Ruckman, and his two children. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Professor Ruckman and his children at this difficult time.”




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