Two boys and their father were found dead in their bedrooms from gunshot wounds Saturday morning in what authorities are investigating as a murder-suicide about three miles south of Cherry Valley.His work on presidential pardons had value to the pundit class. Applied and empirical research is like that.
The home in the 4600 block of Chandan Woods Drive is owned by local professor and nationally renowned political expert P.S. Ruckman Jr. and his ex-wife Heidi Ruckman, according to property tax records filed with the Winnebago County Treasurer’s Office.
P.S. Ruckman, 58, is a political science professor at Rock Valley College and an instructor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He is the editor of PardonPower.com, a website dedicated to his study of presidential pardons. He has written two books: “Pardon Me, Mr. President: Adventures in Crime, Politics and Mercy” and “The Pardon Power in the 21st Century.”Mr Ruckman's colleague and coauthor Mark Osler received the pardon data, then learned the news. "At the end of my book on criminal law, I wrote about how this field is all tragedy, and about the struggle to comprehend and control that tragedy. But this... this is beyond what I have imagined. Help me, if you can, to make sense of this world."
Ruckman has been quoted in political reports across the country since at least the early 2000s. He was the expert voice in stories for The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today and The Associated Press. He’s been interviewed on National Public Radio and has appeared on the BBC, PBS, MSNBC television networks.
Gannett Newspapers' Gregory Korte had asked Mr Ruckman for the pardons data once the research projects were done, and he also received them, then learned the news.
I was crashing on deadline when the emails started flowing into my inbox. Hope Hicks, the White House communications director — who had been with President Trump since long before he announced his candidacy — had just unexpectedly resigned.Yes, and making sense is difficult.
I got confirmation of Hicks' departure at 4:36 p.m. A minute later, I started getting a flood of emails from P.S. Ruckman Jr., a political science professor who taught at Northern Illinois University and Rock Valley College. In 10 emails containing 65 spreadsheets, he was sending his entire data set of more than 30,000 presidential pardons and commutations.
The first email said simply, "Would want you to have this and use freely."
I had already gotten nine of the emails before I noticed them, but I immediately recognized that this was the data set — the one that made him such an essential expert on any story about presidential pardons. It was data I had often asked him to share, unsuccessfully, and now here it was, unsolicited, and out of the blue.
"I was just thinking about you today — and your data. I’ll call you when I’m off deadline," I responded.
I didn't make that call until almost 48 hours later. I left a message asking if everything was OK. But if I had called right away, would he have picked up? And if so, would I have recognized that he was about to do something so terrible? Could I have stopped it?
It's a terrible burden, and one I would soon learn that I shared. "The amount of second-guessing we're doing now is unbearable," one of Ruckman's former colleagues told me.
I've also heard from dozens of people who knew Ruckman better: colleagues, friends and former students — as well as friends of his ex-wife or people who knew the Ruckman boys through their school or their music.Pajamas Media's Lauren Spagnoletti adds material from Twitter.
What emerged is a complicated and sometimes contradictory portrait: A dedicated professor who took pride in the success of his students. An arrogant and insecure academic. A Christian still coming to terms with the severe theology of his father, a well-known evangelist preacher. A devoted father. An emotionally unraveling colleague. A narcissistic monster.
A close friend of Ruckman’s ex-wife — the boys' mother — reached out to me with a plea. Like many who spoke to me, she did not want her name used.
"Please, do not glorify him," she said. "I beg you, do something positive with that data and publish it in the memory not of him, but of Christopher and Jack, who deserve to leave a legacy. They had no choice. You do."