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Du Pont Heir Suspect in Shooting Death

January 27, 1996|From Associated Press

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — An heir to the Du Pont & Co. chemical fortune shot an Olympic wrestler to death Friday, police said, then holed up inside his mansion as SWAT team members converged on his estate.

Police said John E. du Pont was heavily armed and had barricaded himself alone inside a bedroom of his mansion in suburban Philadelphia. Three female friends who had been talking with him inside gave up and left at about 7:30 p.m., police said.

"John du Pont is a marksman, and he has an arsenal," said Police Sgt. Brian McNeill.

Dave Schultz, 36, was shot once in the arm and twice in the chest shortly before 3 p.m., and pronounced dead at Mercy Haverford Hospital, police said.

Officers from at least 10 departments and two SWAT teams converged on the estate Friday night and surrounded the house. Officers were negotiating with Du Pont by cellular phone, police said.

Schultz was among the best-known amateur wrestlers in the country. He won the 1983 world championship and the 163-pound freestyle gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. He won seven world-level freestyle medals overall.

A wrestling coach for Du Pont's club team, Schultz was ranked first in the country in his weight class and was working on a comeback, training for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"He was considered a top hopeful for the 1996 team," USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott said. "If the Olympics were today, he'd be the guy." Olympic trials are scheduled for June.

Abbott said he was unaware of any rift between Du Pont and Schultz.

Du Pont, who is in his late 50s, is a great-great grandson of E.I. du Pont, the French-born industrialist who founded the chemical company. He is one of hundreds of heirs to the family fortune.

Although unmarried and not known to have children, Du Pont told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he paid for the college education of 100 students and gets Father's Day cards from some of his athletes.

"He's an interesting fellow," said Michael Piroff, who lives across the street from the estate. "He'd stroll around in his bathrobe. I wasn't surprised [by the shooting]. He just seemed very eccentric."

Du Pont, himself a wrestler in masters competitions, told the paper in 1991 that his family disapproved of the sport.

"Wrestling was thought to be the sport of ruffians," Du Pont told the Inquirer. "Someone of society, like John du Pont, should not wrestle. It wasn't a country-club sport."

In 1986, Du Pont founded a wrestling program at nearby Villanova University, funding student scholarships, paying the coaching staff and naming himself head coach. Two years later, Villanova dropped the program when the school and other coaches failed to resolve control issues.

In 1989, Du Pont built the 14,000-square-foot Foxcatcher National Training Center in Newtown Square and recruited Olympic-caliber wrestlers worldwide, some of whom live year-round on the 800-acre estate, about 13 miles west of Philadelphia in an exclusive section of rural Delaware County.

Du Pont also contributes about $500,000 a year to USA Wrestling, the governing body that runs the Olympic team.

Schultz was the nation's top wrestler at 163 pounds during the past three years, placing second in the world in 1993, seventh in 1994 and fifth in 1995, when he also was a member of the U.S. team that won the World Cup of Freestyle Wrestling.

Schultz, a native of Palo Alto, wrestled at the University of Oklahoma in 1981 and 1982, winning the Big Eight title in '81 and the NCAA championship at 167 pounds in '82.

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