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Richard Bocklage

Richard Bocklage

Richard Bocklage

A despondent college drop-out murders his ex-fiancée a few weeks after she breaks up with him.

On September 18, 1980, police in Kansas City, Missouri, responded to reports of a shooting. Investigators found a murdered female victim. Her name is Tanya Kopric. She had emigrated from Yugoslavia to study medicine in the United States. She was determined to beat the odds, to build a career and a life in a new country.  

By the age of 34, Tanya had achieved her goal; she was a doctor at a Kansas City hospital and she had also found someone to share her successful life. Richard Bocklage was a pharmacy student at the University of Missouri. He was young and dynamic and quite attentive to Tanya. Soon after they met, he moved into her apartment. Six months later, Richard proposed and Tanya accepted. But her friends weren’t so sure it was the perfect match. Tanya’s friend, Ivan Gregoric, had his reservations:

“I did not really like him because he used her financially and morally.   He was using her for a lot of things, like using her credit card, and her car, just everything.”

Richard spent more and more time with Tanya and less time in class. He was on his way to flunking out. Jane Leigh was Richard’s academic advisor:

“He was not real motivated.   He wanted to be a pharmacist, but you have to want it bad enough to devote many, many hours to the academic study end of it.”

Tanya Kopric

Tanya Kopric

On July 19, 1980, university officials notified Richard that he had been expelled.   Richard begged Tanya to use her connections to get him re-admitted. Finally, on September 2, after months of Richard’s increasingly erratic and sometimes violent, behavior, Tanya broke off their engagement and kicked him out of her apartment.

Two weeks later, Richard Bocklage returned to class pretending he had not flunked out. But university officials refused to accept him back. Bocklage wrote to the admissions office begging school officials to reconsider his case. His appeal was denied and a secretary was ordered to call him with the news.

On September 18, at 3:45, right after Bocklage got the call denying his request, two professors saw him driving towards the dean’s office. They immediately headed in the opposite direction. Bocklage roamed the hallways searching for the dean of admissions. Under his arm, he carried a large manila folder. Some witnesses thought it hid a weapon. The dean wasn’t in, so Richard left.

Three hours later, Tanya returned to her apartment after work. But before she could get out of the car, she was shot three times in the head with a .45 caliber semi-automatic.

By the time police and paramedics arrived, Tanya Kopric was dead. According to Detective Warren Miller with the Kansas City Police Department:

“There was a witness at the scene who saw this man walk up to the side of the doctor’s car and shoot her three times in the face. She recognized him as being the man that dated Dr. Kopric, Richard Bocklage. Later, during the investigation, we found out that Mr. Bocklage had purchased a .45 caliber handgun himself.”

Six days later, Royal Canadian Mounted Police found Bocklage’s car approximately 935 miles north of Kansas City. Richard was seen by two people in the area. He then dropped from sight.

Two months after Tanya was murdered, her parents in Yugoslavia notified police that they had received an unsigned letter that had been postmarked two days before the murder. The envelope was addressed in Richard Bocklage’s handwriting: It read, in part: “Dear Kopric family, Your daughter, Tanya Kopric, has been executed in Kansas City, Missouri. She has caused so much grief, anguish and turmoil to so many Americans that this act was necessary. Her execution was inevitable.”