Relatives seek to overturn eccentric killer millionaire's will

Jun 15 2011 - 5:38pm

PHILADELPHIA -- In his later years, John Eleuthere du Pont believed he was the Dalai Lama, Jesus Christ and a Russian czar, according to court documents filed by a niece and nephew seeking to overturn the eccentric millionaire's will.

He also believed that he was a top CIA consultant and the target of assassins, and that angry Republicans had killed Olympic wrestler David Schultz, the man du Pont murdered, according to a petition filed by William H. du Pont and Beverly Austin du Pont Gaugger.

The pair has asked that a Delaware County, Pa., jury decide whether du Pont was of sound mind when he executed a will about three months before he died Dec. 9 in prison in Somerset County, Pa. The will left the bulk of his estate to a former Bulgarian wrestler and his family.

No value has been placed on the estate, but it was worth at least $28.5 million, the 2010 sale price of du Pont's home and land in Newtown Square, Pa.

The niece and nephew question whether the beneficiaries -- Valentin Jordanov Dimitrov; his wife, Zdravka Monteta Atanosova Dimitrov; and relatives -- exerted undue influence over du Pont.

Dimitrov, the estate's executor, and his relatives visited du Pont frequently in prison. The petition says they were "openly hostile" to other visitors and "cast the natural heirs in a negative light."

The beneficiaries, it says, concealed the new will until after du Pont's death.

A message left for du Pont Gaugger and her attorneys was not returned. Phone numbers for Dimitrov have been disconnected.

Du Pont was a great-great-great-grandson of Eleuthere Irenee du Pont de Nemours, founder of the DuPont chemical company. He spent almost 15 years behind bars for the murder of Schultz, a gold-medal-winning wrestler who was gunned down Jan. 26, 1996, during an argument outside Schultz's home on the grounds of du Pont's Foxcatcher Farm estate and training facility.

At the time, Dimitrov lived on the estate.

Du Pont was found to have paranoid schizophrenia with delusion. He was found guilty but mentally ill and sentenced to 13 to 30 years in prison.

The petition to challenge the will says that no competent evidence suggests du Pont ever recovered from his mental illness and that his condition deteriorated further.

(c) 2011, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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