Teachers are usually seen as good pepople, right? They’re smart, chill, and wouldn’t hurt a fly. But sometimes, the “crazy teacher” stories aren’t just stuff from movies. Some actually went full-on bad. Here’s a look at professors who flipped their lids and became some real bad news.
9. Ted Kaczynski
Ever heard of the “Unabomber”? That was Ted. Yep, this guy was once a math whiz teaching at a university. Before he turned into the Unabomber, young Ted got into Harvard at just 16.
By 25, he was teaching math at the University of California at Berkeley. Then, outta nowhere, he quit in 1969 and vanished into a cabin. That’s when things got wild.
This man started mailing scary homemade bombs all over the place. He didn’t like our techy, modern world, so he targeted people who did – like computer store owners and business bigwigs.
From trying to blow up an airplane to going after a DNA expert, Ted didn’t hold back. The damage? Loads of people got hurt. Think lost fingers, bad burns, and even some losing their eyesight.
For a whopping 17 years, this mad ex-teacher had the whole country on edge. The twist? His own brother helped catch him. After seeing some writings Ted penned, his brother called the cops.
They were after him big time – the FBI had their biggest ever manhunt for the Unabomber. In the end, Ted didn’t get the death penalty. Instead? Four lifetimes in the slammer. And catching him? It took a village. Or, at least, a super-sized team of 150 FBI agents.
8. John White Webster
Going over budget is bad enough, but for one professor, it led to a fatal decision. John White Webster, a doctor turned Harvard Chemistry professor, loved the finer things.
He splashed out on a unique fossil and mineral collection, getting so deep in debt that he ended up taking a life. George Parkman, the man he owed money to, was a well-known figure in lending and real estate.
He and Webster had been on business terms for years. But things turned sour on November 23, 1849. Parkman tried collecting his debt, and in a heated moment, Webster lost it and killed him.
Parkman’s mysterious absence raised eyebrows, and it was soon discovered that Webster had chopped up his body, hiding it under his house. Thanks to a janitor’s detective work, Parkman’s remains were found in a drain pipe, leading to Webster’s arrest and execution in 1850.
7. Cheung Kie-chung
Who would link a mechanical engineering professor with murder? Cheung Kie-chung, a council member at the University of Hong Kong, did the unthinkable: he killed his wife. To add to the horror, he hid her body on campus and then reported her missing.
But CCTV footage told a different story. It showed him moving a large wooden box but never showed his wife leaving their home. This box, which oozed blood and emitted a foul smell, turned out to be her makeshift coffin. The professor’s story didn’t align with the video evidence, leading to his arrest.
6. Shannon Lamb
Sometimes, life eerily mirrors one’s academic interests. Shannon Lamb, an expert in the “geography of crime,” turned his studies into reality. He went on a tragic spree, killing fellow Delta State University professor, Ethan Schmidt, and his girlfriend before taking his own life.
The motive remains murky, with a cryptic note from Lamb offering no clear answers. There were whispers of professional jealousy and tenure issues. In memory of Schmidt, the university erected a “broken arrow” sculpture, commemorating his contributions.
5. Eric Clanton
You’d think a philosophy professor would be all about peace and intellectual debates. Eric Clanton, a former professor at East Bay College in California, thought differently. He got involved in Antifa activities and took his beliefs to a violent extreme.
In April 2017, Clanton attacked people with a bike lock during a free speech rally in Berkeley. While no one died, the injuries were severe.
Originally charged with felony assault, Clanton took a plea deal, landing him three years of probation. It’s one thing to have strong views, but quite another to turn to violence.
4. Ernesto A. Bustamante
Ernesto A. Bustamante? A spooky figure from the school halls. The dude not only lost his temper big time but was, sadly, known for some dark deeds. He was once a shining star at the University of Idaho, teaching psychology. Students often called him “E” and seemed to dig his hands-on approach. He didn’t just stop at teaching; he liked to get all involved in his students’ business.
But, things went south. He got all mixed up with a student, Kathryn Benoit, who was only 22. She wasn’t just his student; they had some personal ties. She later said he threatened and harassed her.
And then, one fateful day at the start of a new semester, Bustamante drove up to her place and things turned real tragic. Both didn’t make it out alive. And guess what the cops found later? Loads of guns, some of Kathryn’s paperwork, and meds hinting at mental struggles.
3. Erich Muenter
Ever heard of Erich Muenter? The guy was a mix of brains, craziness, and, well, more craziness. Born in Germany, he later hopped over to the US and taught German at big-name schools like the University of Kansas and even Harvard.
But he wasn’t just an average Joe. He had a ton of issues. Born in Germany, he moved to America and taught German at both the University of Kansas and Harvard.
Not just an academic, he shot American magnate J.P. Morgan (who survived) and displayed fanatical German nationalism. He faced suspicions when his wife died from arsenic poisoning, especially after he initially opposed an autopsy. When her remains were eventually examined, the cause of death was confirmed as arsenic poisoning.
He popped up again with a new name, Holt, and yep, he was still teaching German. By 1915, Holt became the talk of the town, not for his teaching, but for some dark stuff. He went off on J.P. Morgan, big-time business dude, for supporting war efforts.
And then, in a wild twist, he planted bombs in big spots like the New York police HQ and a fancy ship. He even took a shot at Morgan, who, like a boss, survived and even nabbed Holt.
Holt tried to say he was all about peace, but his actions? They told a whole different story. Sadly, he met a grim end while in police hands.
2. James St. James
You know how in some stories, people have deep, dark secrets? Well, James St. James, a psychology professor at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, definitely had one.
Born as James Wolcott in Texas, he did something unthinkable at 15: he shot his own family – his mom, dad, and sister – after going to a concert and, believe it or not, sniffing glue. After this horrifying act, he ended up in a mental hospital until he was 21.
But here’s the twist. After getting out, he got some money, went to school, and became a psychology professor. No one knew about his past until 46 years later!
When his secret came out, people were split. The mayor want to fire him but the school told that He’d changed and he was a great teacher. They pointed out all he’d achieved.
1. George Zinkhan III
Now, it’s rare to hear about a professor causing harm, but George Zinkhan III’s story is something else. On April 25, 2009, this University of Georgia marketing professor went on a shocking spree. Right in broad daylight, on a bustling street next to the Athens Community Theater in Georgia, he shot his wife and two others.
Can you imagine? And he had two guns to do it! The victims were his 47-year-old wife, Marie Bruce, 40-year-old Tom Tanner, and 63-year-old Ben Teague.
But it gets crazier. His kids were in the car when he showed up at the scene. Word is, he dropped them off and then took off. Loads of FBI agents from seven states were looking for him.
But in a final, eerie move, he took his own life. He didn’t just shoot himself though – he dug a shallow