The man they captured did fit the mold of one typical suspect. He was the husband of the murdered woman. While the FBI found their man by looking at the usual suspects, they did not find their suspect in a very usual location. They made their capture in a rather small American City.
Robert Henry Nicolaus, the murderer no doubt thought that he was clear of FBI surveillance when he managed to travel from California to central Pennsylvania. Nicolaus did not figure on fate’s role in aiding the long arm of the law. Nicolaus purchased a paper in York, Pennsylvania soon after the death of Bob Hoffman.
Hoffman’s name was a name familiar to the murderer. As a jogger and weightlifter, Nicolaus had heard of the man who had coached the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team from 1948 until 1964. Nicolaus noted mention in the paper of the Hoffman Health Store.
Nicolaus’ next move gives one a clear picture of the mind of someone who should be among the “usual suspects.” Nicolaus realized immediately that the store would be empty. He decided to raid the store, and to thus get some free health food.
Nicolaus recruited the help of a man who never wanted to have contact with anyone’s usual suspects. He was an innocent cab driver in York. Nicolaus asked the cab driver if he knew the location of the Hoffman Health Store. The driver, not knowing the questioner’s evil intentions, took Nicolaus to the Store.
Nicolaus had left a trail during his journey to Pennsylvania. He had killed his two daughters and his son. He had been heard to say about their murders, “they’ll be better off in heaven.”
Such acts did not go unnoticed by the authorities. They contacted the FBI, and the agency remained hot on Nicolaus’ trail. The agency was waiting for Nicolaus to take the bait that fate had handed them upon the death of Bob Hoffman.
Nicolaus collected a large bag of goods while at Hoffman’s Store. He then caught a cab back to his room at the local YMCA. Nicolaus thought he could claim yet another victory over the American system for law enforcement. But as Nicolaus approached his room, the FBI moved in.
Bob Hoffman had once done his country a great service, coaching the Olympic weightlifters through five different Olympic competitions. Later he had provided society with a wealth of information on bodybuilding and health supplements.
After his death, Hoffman did his country yet another service. He helped the FBI to capture a man who no one wants on the streets, a man who deserves placement on a list of usual suspects. That added contribution from Bob Hoffman was not mentioned in 1998, when the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated an historical marker at Hoffman’s York Barbell plant.