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Wednesday February 7, 2001

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Car linked to ASU professor who knew murder victims

By Franci Richardson


Tuesday, February 6, 2001

HANOVER, N.H. - The man whose rental car police seized at Manchester Airport last week is a geology professor at Arizona State University who knew Half and Susanne Zantop, the two Dartmouth professors found stabbed to death in their home more than a week ago, sources said.

"He was visiting the area at the time,'' said a source. "He knew Half, yes. You would see him on campus, visiting people.''

Stanley N. Williams, 48, of Phoenix, who received his doctorate in Earth sciences from Dartmouth College in 1983, had made several trips to the Hanover campus over the past few months, according to sources.

At the time of the Zantops' deaths, Williams was visiting with Richard Stoiber, his dissertation supervisor, to complete a research project, and on Saturday, the day the Zantops were found murdered, attended Stoiber's 90th birthday party, said sources.

"I know that he has been traveling back and forth to Dartmouth in recent months,'' said a college source at ASU. "His adviser has been in very ill health. He and Stan were very close and Stan spent some time back there trying to finish up some research projects with Stoiber while they still could.''

Half Zantop, 62, was an Earth sciences professor at Dartmouth College for the past 25 years. Susanne Zantop, 55, chaired the German Department and taught comparative literature and some women's studies classes.

Both professors were found dead, lying in a pool of blood in their study a week ago Saturday by a colleague who had arrived to have dinner with the couple.

Police, who have been tight-lipped about the investigation, have conceded the Zantops were stabbed to death by someone they welcomed into their secluded home, about three miles from the Ivy League campus.

The Zantops were scheduled to attend Stoiber's 90th birthday party on the day they were murdered.

Last week, state police impounded a white Daewoo that was rented from Thrifty Car Rental in Manchester, N.H. Inside the car, police discovered a pair of eyeglasses and a card from Arizona State University.

Prompted by state authorities not to talk, Thrifty's manager yesterday refused comment.

New Hampshire investigators have reportedly traveled to Arizona, but it was unclear why.

Nancy Neff, the ASU spokeswoman, declined comment on the investigation. "This is a personal matter and we don't comment on our employees' personal matters,'' she said yesterday.

Williams did not return several calls placed to his office and home yesterday by the Herald. But his wife, Linda Williams, of Phoenix had little to say except that she and her husband were on their way to dinner last night.

"We have nothing to say. There were lots of cars seized. Why don't you report on the other cars?''

New Hampshire investigators have said that they were examining other vehicles in addition to the white Daewoo.

Williams has been a professor of volcanology - an area of study in which Half Zantop also specialized - at Arizona State University's Geology Department since August 1995, working his way up from an associate professorship that began in 1991, according to his curriculum vitae posted on an ASU Web site.

In 1993, Williams was the lone survivor of seven volcanologists who were studying the Galeras volcano in the Colombian Andes when it exploded. Williams, then 41, suffered a fractured skull, crushed ear, broken nose and jaw, and legs, along with extensive bruises.

Between 1985 and 1991, Williams was an associate professor in volcanology at Louisiana State University. He did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago for a year after graduating from Dartmouth in 1983.

The Zantops were cremated Friday, two days after their two daughters, Susanne's parents, and Half's siblings arrived in Hanover. On Saturday, Dartmouth College had a memorial service that drew 900 friends, faculty and students.