8:54 pm Crime Stories


Sunday, May 14, 1995

Page: 1A
By DAWN SHURMAITIS; Times Leader Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE — When Robert “Bob” Bachman graduated from Meyers High School
in 1978, teachers and friends predicted the brilliant boy with the shy
smile would become as successful as his father, a doctor.

The saxophone-playing, jazz-loving teen might even become famous.
Bachman did land in the newspapers two weeks ago, but in a way that stunned
the middle-class neighborhood where he grew up.

Bachman, 34, died May 5 of three gunshot wounds to the chest after being
shot in his bedroom by his father, police said.

Dr. Paul Bachman, a retired podiatrist, reportedly told police he “couldn’t
take it any more” and shot his son to save his wife’s life.

The 67-year-old foot doctor faces homicide charges. His preliminary hearing
is scheduled Tuesday before District Justice Michael Collins.

Friends and neighbors who spoke on condition of anonymity say Paul Bachman,
who retired after a heart attack and bypass surgery, was afraid he would
die, leaving his 60-year-old wife, Judith, alone with their increasingly
erratic son.

Paul Bachman told police his only son and youngest child had threatened to
rip out his mother’s heart.

At the time of his death, most friends regarded Bob Bachman as a failure.
Despite a master’s degree from a prestigious university, he lived at home,
jobless. Friends say he did little more than sit in his yard, day after
day. Neighbors say they sometimes heard an angry Bob Bachman cursing his

Paul Bachman, charged with criminal homicide, remains free on $100,000
bail. The family has declined comment.

A family friend said, “No one knows what goes on in anyone’s home behind
closed doors.”

A typical family

Friends of Paul and Judith Bachman were reluctant to give their names but
eager to paint a picture of a typical American family.

The couple raised their two kids, Bob, and his older sister, Fern, in a
modest home on Edison Street in a tree-lined neighborhood where kids shoot
hoops and play sandlot baseball.

When the two Bachman children were younger, the family often was seen
together at restaurants, in the yard, at Temple Israel in Kingston.

“I can just picture his sweet face,” said a woman who knew Bob Bachman from
childhood. “He was shy, but very bright.”

Judith Bachman was a full-time mother and housewife. Former patients say
Paul Bachman was an excellent doctor, gentle and soft spoken. Everyone was
disappointed when he retired.

“Everyone loved him,” said a friend.

Schoolmates of Bob Bachman remember him as smarter than average, quieter
and shyer than most.

“The kid was brilliant. Brilliant,” said a high school pal who last saw Bob
Bachman two days before he died, when he drove past the house and spotted
him in the yard.

When they were kids, the two boys played baseball and basketball with a
regular gang of South Side kids who were often invited to shoot pool in the
Bachmans’ basement.

“He was part of the crew. But he definitely wasn’t a drinker or a druggie,”
said the friend, who didn’t want his name used.

“We’d be sitting around listening to Black Sabbath and Kiss and he’d be
listening to Boots Randolph,” said the friend. Bachman, who played
saxophone in the school band, considered the famous sax player a music

John Chamberlain taught Bachman advanced English and remembers him as a
conscientious student who always turned in his papers on time.

“He was a very personable kid, a little on the quiet side,” Chamberlain
said. “I never expected him to get in trouble in the future. I remember him
as a nice young man.”

Burned out after college

After graduation, Bob Bachman apparently intended to follow in his father’s
footsteps. He spent a single semester at the Iowa College of Podiatric
Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines.

Bob Bachman was part of a small class of 70. He took a leave of absence in
January 1984, and never returned, according to school officials.

Bachman had much greater success at Boston University. According to school
officials, he graduated with honors in 1986 with a degree in mathematics.

From there, he went on to obtain a master’s degree in mathematics from
Lehigh University in Bethlehem. He graduated in January 1989.

People who knew him say Bob Bachman had changed dramatically by the time he
returned from school. He was living at home with his parents at the time of
the shooting.

“He went away to college, burned out and came home,” said a friend. “He was
very different. He wasn’t the same person. He was pretty annoying. He
talked in circles.”

When the weather was nice, Bob Bachman would spend hours sitting alone on a
lawn chair in his parents’ yard, reading. Otherwise, friends and neighbors
say, he stayed inside the house, listening to the radio.

Sometimes during the day he’d borrow his mother’s Oldsmobile and leave for
hours. He worked odd jobs, which usually never lasted, or went fishing.

Last year, he applied for a security job at a store where a high school
buddy worked. He didn’t qualify for the minimum-wage job.

“I thought he was going to be a doctor like his dad,” said the buddy. “He
seemed to have everything going for him.”

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