Renowned Professor, Two Sons Dead in Possible Double Murder-Suicide

A prominent political science professor is believed to have fatally shot his two sons before turning the gun on himself in an apparent double murder-suicide.

Police in Winnebago County, Illinois discovered the bodies of P.S. Ruckman Jr., 58, and his two sons, 14-year-old Christopher Ruckman and 12-year-old Jon Ruckman, inside separate rooms of their two-story home in Cherry Valley on Saturday, March 3, WIFR reported.

According to reports, authorities responded to the home after Ruckman’s ex-wife, Heidi Ruckman, requested a welfare check. She claimed that she hadn’t heard from Ruckman or either of their sons in several days. It was also her weekend to have custody of the children.

Police arrived at the scene just after 7 a.m. Saturday morning and discovered the bodies of Ruckman and his two sons in separate bedrooms with gunshot wounds. Although the investigation is still ongoing, detectives believe that Ruckman shot his two children before turning the gun on himself.

Ruckman and his wife, a civil defense attorney, filed for divorce in December 2017. They had last appeared in court in early November to discuss changes to their parenting plan.

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“We don't know exactly what the mental state or if there's been a history of mental illness or issues with the family. We've gotten no reports of prior domestic violence from this address or from the people involved so this is something that appears to have come just out of the blue,” said Deputy Chief Mike Schultz of the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.

Ruckman had been a professor of political science at Rock Valley College since 1998 and an instructor at Northern Illinois University. He was known for writing extensively on presidential pardon powers and was an editor of a blog called pardonpower.com, as well as the author of two forthcoming books. He was quoted as an expert in multiple political reports since the early 2000s, including in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Associated Press. He also appeared as a commentator on BBC, PBS and MSNBC.