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Dissecting The Story Of Dr. James St. James

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(Duration: 10:22)

James St. James

Millikin University Professor James St. James

A Texas newspaper recently traced Millikin University's psychology chair to his childhood, and the shooting deaths of three family members in 1967.

About two weeks ago, an investigation by the Georgetown Advocate revealed that Dr. James St. James once went by the name Jim Wolcott, and as a 15-year old, allegedly shot and killed his parents and teenage sister in Georgetown, Texas in 1967.

A jury declared Wolcott not guilty by reason of insanity, and he spent six years in a Texas state hospital before doctors declared him sane and released him.

He legally changed his name, and earned three psychology degrees, including a doctorate from the University of Illinois.

Illinois Public Media’s Jeff Bossert talked with Chicago Sun-Times Statehouse Bureau Chief Dave McKinney, about the reaction the story has generated in and around Decatur.

Some media reports have questioned how he was hired in 1986 without revealing his past, and whether he should keep his job now.  

Attorney and University of Illinois Law Professor Steve Beckett said he’s had clients like St. James found not guilty by reason of insanity, successfully undergone treatment, and legally changed their name.

“So I look at these pieces, these three pieces, and my reaction is – he hasn’t violated any law," he said.  "And so now, you look at the whole – and you say, my gosh, now we know his history.  And I suppose he’s a tenured professor, and we all know that means unless he does something wrong, he probably has a job.”

Illinois Public Media also reached out to Professor St. James – he declined to comment on the details of his case.