Robert Cushing Sr., the man who police say was gunned down in his hallway after Robert McLaughlin, an obsessed neighbor, shot him through the front door, will have his story unfold on tonight’s Motives and Murders: Cracking the Case on Investigation Discovery. The episode based on the Robert Cushing murder case is “A Deadly Obsession.” Robert McLaughlin, who also happened to be a cop at the time, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. New Hampshire law enforcement detectives and Robert Cushing’s son, Former State Representative at New Hampshire House of Representatives Robert ‘Renny’ Cushing, are expected to appear on the ID crime show.
The “A Deadly Obsession” episode will chronicle the events that led up to the death of 63-year-old Robert Cushing, a respectable and upstanding family man who was murdered in June of 1988. According to court records, Marie and Robert Cushing were watching the game when someone knocked on the front door of their home. When they got up to answer it, a man shot through the screen, striking Robert Cushing in the chest.
In shock and disbelief, family members paced the floor back and forth as they tried to determine who could have done this. It was obviously a targeted shooting. However, who had it out for Robert Cushing?
Marie Cushing believed her husband’s death was tied to the social activist work of their son Renny. At the time, Renny was shaking things up in the community, seeking changes, and wanting to make sure that community members were being protected, Wills World wrote.
Weeks later police honed in on Robert McLaughlin Sr. after a tip led them in his direction. The investigation revealed that Robert McLaughlin had confessed to the murder to his son. The court records recount the way it happened.
“[Robert Sr.] was going to shoot [Cushing] and he didn’t care what happened to him, if he got caught for it or if he got killed…. And he went to [the defendant] and he told her about it, and she told him that he couldn’t do it like that, that he had to come up with a better idea, that he had to come up with a better plan. So she told him that they had to disguise themselves. And she got him to put on a disguise, and herself. They drove to this place where this man lived. She stood guard for him while he went up to the front door and shot Robert Cushing, and they went to some place and got rid of the shotgun.”
It was also later determined that the fatal shooting was tied to a long-held grudge between Robert Cushing and Robert McLaughlin.
SeaCoast Sunday describes when the feud between the two neighbors began.
“The two men had apparently been in an altercation during a 1975 traffic accident outside Cushing’s house on Winnacunnet Road in which McLaughlin arrested Cushing for interfering in the accident investigation. Observers say Cushing refused to put out a cigarette when asked by McLaughlin. Later that year, Cushing apparently signed a petition asking to get McLaughlin off the police force on the grounds of police brutality against a neighbor of Cushing’s.”
News that Robert McLaughlin, who was a police officer for almost 20 years, was the actual killer, alarmed the entire community. Even more shocking, his wife, Susan McLaughlin helped him plan it and kept watch as her husband carried out the murder.
Defense attorneys said that Robert McLaughlin was in a zombie-like state when he committed the hateful act, citing alcohol abuse and sleeping pills as the cause of his altered mental state. However, a look back through McLaughlin’s history shows that he was capable of committing this crime, even without the influence of alcohol or sleeping pills.
Many years earlier, Robert McLaughlin killed his childhood best friend and had engaged in other criminal acts. And when he believed that his job was being threatened by what he considered were false accusations, he allowed a 14-year grudge to make him do the unthinkable. The police investigation revealed that Robert McLaughlin passed the background check to become a cop after he changed his name from Robert Randall to Robert McLaughlin, SeaCoast Sunday explained.
You can watch Motives And Murders true-crime tale tonight on Investigation Discovery (ID). Check local listings for a schedule. On a previous episode of Motives and Murders, the case of a missing California teen was profiled.
[Featured Image by Jim Cole/AP Images]