Police say a nationally renowned political science professor allegedly killed his two sons before taking his own life inside their suburban Illinois home.
According to officials in Winnebago County, police were called to the home of Peter S. Ruckman Jr., commonly known as P.S. Ruckman, at around 7 a.m. Saturday, to perform a welfare check. There, they found 58-year-old Ruckman and his sons, Christopher, 14, and 12-year-old John shot dead.
According to the Rockford Register Star, the bodies were found in separate bedrooms.
Ruckman was an expert in the area of presidential pardons and wrote 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 interviewed regularly by national media, lending his voice to the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, BBC, and MSNBC, among others, over the last decade.
For 20 years, Ruckman was a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois.
“The Rock Valley College community is devastated by the news of the tragic deaths of Peter Ruckman, and his two children,” Rock Valley College President Doug Jensen said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Professor Ruckman and his children at this difficult time.”
Ruckman taught an online course at Northern Illinois University in nearby DeKalb last year.
Police say there is no documented history of domestic violence in the Ruckman family and that officers had never been called to their address. Court records show that Ruckman’s ex-wife, defense attorney Heidi Ruckman, filed for divorce last July. The marriage officially ended in August. However, the couple attended court hearings until November 2017 to amend their parenting plan.
Police say Heidi Ruckman called police after she hadn’t heard from her ex-husband and that it was her weekend with the boys.
Christopher was a guitar prodigy and performed with professional bands in addition to playing the national anthem at local events. Jack played the drums and was an accomplished baseball player. Both boys were students at a local Christian school.
The deaths are the second double murder-suicide in Winnebago County in recent weeks. A 26-year-old man shot and killed his estranged wife and her boyfriend before shooting himself during a police chase in February, The Rock River Times reported last week.
The Ruckmans’ autopsies are scheduled for Monday, March 5. Although police have confirmed that each victim was shot, details of their wounds and the type of firearm involved have not been released.
P.S. Ruckman earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and Government from Ferris State University in 1991. He also earned a master’s and two bachelor’s degrees from Florida State University and the University of West Florida, respectively. He was the son of Baptist pastor and Pensacola Bible Institute founder Peter Sturges Ruckman, a leading voice of “King James Onlyism,” the belief that the King James Bible is the final, preserved word of God.