Accused Killer of Missouri History Professor Called ‘Most Placid Guy’

Colleagues of Edward Gutting, the Missouri State University lecturer who allegedly stabbed retired history professor Marc Cooper to death, are expressing their “shock” over what conspired.

“He was the most laid-back, placid guy, genial,” Robert Kaster, a professor at Princeton University, told the News-Leader. “I wrote a letter of recommendation for him when he was applying to graduate school. It was an easy letter to write, he was a very smart guy.”

Professor Pauline Nugent, who worked a few doors down from Gutting at Missouri State University, was equally surprised. Gutting mostly kept to himself, she said, but never showed any signs of instability.

“I’m as horrified as the next person,” Nugent said. “I can’t think of anything that explains the rationale behind this.”

Police still do not have a motive for why the 43-year-old burst into Cooper’s house last Wednesday, wielding a knife. Gutting has been placed on administrative leave and is being charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action, assault and burglary.

Cooper, who taught at Missouri State’s history department for 34 years, was a loyal member of his local temple.

“He was a brilliant man,” Rita Sherwin, a former rabbi at his synagogue, said. “He was highly ethical. He was kind. And he had an amazing sense of humor.”

Thea Glassman is the Forward’s multimedia fellow. Contact her at or on Twitter, @theakglassman


Thea Glassman

Thea Glassman

Thea Glassman is an Associate Editor for the Forward. Reach her at or follow her on twitter @theakglassman.

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