2010-12-16 / Local & State

Imprisoned Heir To du Pont Chemical Fortune Dies


PITTSBURGH (AP) – John du Pont, the chemical fortune heir who killed an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler at his palatial estate, died Thursday after being found unresponsive in his prison cell. He was 72.

Du Pont was found just before 7 a.m. local time at Laurel Highlands state prison, prisons spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said. He was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital.

Du Pont was the greatgreat grandson of E.I. du Pont, the French-born industrialist who founded the chemical company, and one of hundreds of heirs to the family fortune.

In January 1996, he shot and killed David Shultz, 36, a 1984 gold medal winner who came to live and train at a state-of-the-art Foxcatcher National Training Center that du Pont had built on his 800-acre (324-hectare) property in Newtown Square. After the shooting, du Pont barricaded himself inside his home for two days, but was taken into custory when he left his mansion to fix a boiler police had shut off.

The millionaire had a reputation for acting erratically, including once driving two new Lincoln Continentals into a pond on his property, one after the other. Wrestlers who had trained at Foxcatcher alleged du Pont pointed guns at them, drank too much and once kicked out a wrestler because he was black.

His lawyers also contended du Pont was insane, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia that also made him believe he was Christ and the Dalai Lama.

In 1997, he was found guilty but mentally ill in Shultz’s death and sentenced to 13 to 30 years in prison.

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