Penn State shocked to learn prof had murder record
STATE COLLEGE: Last month, Penn State University officials learned something about professor Paul Krueger that wasn’t on his resume — he is on parole for a triple murder committed in Texas nearly 40 years ago.
University spokesman Bill Mahon said Friday that the university knew nothing about Krueger’s conviction until late last month, when the Pennsylvania Bureau of Probation and Parole first contacted the university. Parole officials in Texas only notified Pennsylvania in February.
“We’re in shock to find out some of the details, and we’re still looking into it,” Mahon said. “We’ve never had a situation like this before.”
Mahon said the university doesn’t require prospective faculty to report their criminal backgrounds.
But it may soon be a moot point. A spokesman for National University in California confirmed that Krueger had accepted a teaching job there, and parole officials in Texas said they already were working on that move.
“We are, as a matter of fact, to meet with him at our headquarters here today to do some of that paperwork,” said Kathy Shallcross, deputy director of Texas’ parole division said Friday.
Hoyt Smith, spokesman for National University, the La Jolla-based college where Krueger will be associate professor of business, said officials were shocked to learn of the conviction from a reporter Friday, but that it wouldn’t necessarily affect his employment.
“He had excellent credentials. He came highly recommended from Penn State,” Smith said.
Krueger, who has been at Penn State for four years, has no telephone listing in the State College area. He did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press.
In 1965, when he was just 18, Krueger and a friend, 16-year-old John Angles, left San Clemente, Calif. The two passed through Texas and rented a motor boat hoping to travel to Venezuela, where they intended to become “soldiers of fortune,” according to a 1979 story in the Austin American-Statesman.
Along the Intracoastal Waterway near Corpus Christi, they encountered a fishing boat with a crew of three, John D. Fox, 38; Noel D. Little, 50; and Van D. Carson, 40, all from Corpus Christi. As night fell on April 12, 1965, all five went to shore and put in for the night.
For reasons Kreuger never made public, he shot the three fishermen that night, unloading a total of 40 bullets into their bodies. Sam Jones, then the district attorney for Nueces County, later referred to the shooting as “the most heinous crime in the history of the Gulf Coast.”
Krueger pleaded guilty in 1966 to three counts of murder with malice aforethought and was sentenced to three life terms, to be served concurrently.
Corrections officials described Krueger as a model inmate. He earned his diploma and an associate’s degree from inside, volunteered with alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs and reported for the prison newspaper.
Two parole commissioners, in 1977, called Krueger, “probably the most exceptional inmate” in the entire state. “There is nothing further he can do to rehabilitate himself,” they said. Two years later, he was paroled to West Covina, Calif., where he enrolled in graduate school.
Krueger’s academic credentials are unquestioned — he graduated summa cum laude from Sam Houston State University, going on to earn a master’s degree from California State University-Los Angeles, a Ph.D. in sociology from South Dakota State University and an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California.
He was a visiting professor at Idaho State University and held a tenure-track position at Augustana College in South Dakota before coming to Penn State, where Krueger was director of the Institute for Research in Training and Development, teaching mostly graduate courses and studying employee training programs.
Some of his previous employers also expressed surprise when learning of Krueger’s conviction.
“I’m sitting here thunderstruck. I’m virtually speechless,” said Anne Oppegard, chairwoman of the business department at Augustana. “I’m practically stuttering I’m so dumbfounded.”
Rick Davis, who teaches business ethics at Susquehanna University, said he was unsure whether Krueger was obligated to reveal his background.
“That’s an awfully long time ago,” Davis said, “and if somebody would say that the university has an ethical obligation to refrain form hiring people like that, then what they’re saying is that these people can never, ever enter into the professional world again, and I think that’s wrong.
“A major purpose of going to prison is to be rehabilitated, and if in the opinion of the system they are, then I think the university is entitled to rely upon that.”