'Mad' heir held after gun siege at mansion

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The Independent Online
John Eleuthere du Pont, an heir to one of America's largest fortunes, was much loved by the police at Newtown Square, the town neighbouring his 800-acre Pennsylvania estate.

An Olympic quality marksman who counts an armoured personnel carrier among his possessions, over the years he has provided officers with free instruction at his private shooting range and bought them bullet-proof vests. Yesterday members of the same police department seized Mr du Pont outside his home and a heavily armed rapid response team took him away, ending a 48-hour siege at his mansion. He is alleged to have killed the wrestler David Schultz, who won a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, on Friday with two shots to the chest.

Mr Schultz lived with his wife and two children in a house on the grounds of the Du Pont 800-acre Foxcatcher estate. Police sources said Mr du Pont, great-great-grandson of the man who founded the Du Pont chemicals empire and heir to its fortune, was taken to a police station where he was charged with first-degree murder. Television footage showed a gaunt Mr du Pont, wearing a Team Foxcatcher T-shirt of the wrestling team he sponsored, being led to a van.There remained no indication of the motive for the killing.

Mr Schultz, and Mr du Pont met through the millionaire's love of wrestling. Against the advice of friends, Mr Schultz, 36, had been training for this year's Atlanta Olympics at a vast sports facility - called by some athletes "the Funny Farm" - on the Du Pont property.

Nick Gallo, who had known Mr Schultz since 1976, said Mr du Pont had turned paranoid in recent months. "He accused Dave of crawling through the walls and spying on him," Mr Gallo told Newsday newspaper. "He even asked Dave if he was masquerading as his dog. The guy was a lunatic. Everyone knew it but did nothing - because of his generosity." Mr du Pont, 57, has channelled most of his donations into sport but he is also keen on nature, a passion possibly inherited from his mother, who raised Welsh ponies. The Delaware Museum of Natural History which has among its treasures a collection of 2 million sea shells, was built with his money.

John du Pont is the great-great-grandson of Eleuthere Irenee du Pont, a Frenchman who fled to the US after the Revolution and in 1802 founded a gunpowder business in Delaware. After the First World War, when the du Ponts became known as "the Merchants of Death", the company expanded into chemicals, rubber and synthetic fibres.

Martha du Pont, his sister-in- law, told the Associated Press that she had been alarmed for some time by his growing eccentricity. "It's so hard to help someone today because of the laws," she said. "You used to be able to go into court and get someone committed but now you can't."

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