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Researcher Emails Data Dump on Presidential Pardons Hours Before Shooting Self, Sons

USA Today journalist Gregory Korte had a chilling experience recently. The reporter got an email with a database containing information on every presidential pardon, going back to George Washington. His source, Northern Illinois University political science professor P.S. Ruckman Jr., was someone with whom he had previously worked.

The reporter had written on President Obama's use of clemency, and Ruckman provided him with some of his findings, which he had painstakingly collected during years of research at the National Archives. For this particular piece, Korte received the President Gerald Ford Foundation Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency.

Ruckman sent Korte other lists of presidential pardons when the latter was writing about President Trump's pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The two stayed in touch and Korte hoped to one day have access to Ruckman's full database. The professor informed him that he could as soon as he was done with his book on the topic.

Much to Korte's surprise, he recently received the full database in an email from Ruckman. When he tried to contact him to thank him, he got no response. Korte shared on Twitter this week his sad discovery: shortly after Ruckman emailed him, he killed his two sons, and then himself, at their home.

Korte wrote that he knew Ruckman was proud of his sons, having shared with him a YouTube video of his 7th grader playing the guitar.