Chapter 3

Psychotic Secondary School Shooters


Psychosis is often misunderstood. It is not unusual for someone to say of a school shooter, “he’s not psychotic—he planned this.” Psychosis is not the inability to engage in purposeful action. During Kip Kinkel’s trial, an attorney who was questioning a psychologist pointed out that after Kinkel killed his parents he made himself a bowl of cereal. The attorney then asked, “Did that indicate anything to you?” to which the psychologist replied, “Probably that he was hungry.” The attorney apparently was questioning if psychotic people can engage in meaningful behavior. Psychotic symptoms vary considerably and may be chronic or episodic, broadly debilitating or narrowly problematic.

Though psychotic symptoms can occur with several diagnoses, including major depression and bipolar disorder, the psychotic shooters presented in this chapter appeared to have had either schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder. Of the two conditions, schizophrenia is more severe. Schizophrenics experience hallucinations and/or delusions, the former being false perceptions and the latter being false beliefs. They also struggle socially, are often desperately lonely, and are prone to depression.

Those who are schizotypal may have strange ideas, beliefs, and perceptual experiences, but these tend not to be as severe as hallucinations and delusions. Schizotypals are usually seen as odd in appearance, speech, or behavior. They also have significant impairment in their social functioning.

What is it like to be schizophrenic? It can be terrifying: “My greatest fear is this brain of mine. . . . The worst thing imaginable is to be terrified of one’s own mind, the very matter that controls all that we are and all that we do and feel.”[1] This and the following quotations are from people living with schizophrenia. Though none of them are school shooters, their comments shed light on psychotic experiences.

To not trust one’s own brain has devastating consequences. “What then does schizophrenia mean to me? It means fatigue and confusion, it means trying to separate every experience into the real and the unreal and not sometimes being aware of where the edges overlap.”[2]

Delusional beliefs can seem so obviously true that they are held with great conviction: “In college, I ‘knew’ that everyone was thinking and talking about me and that a local pharmacist was tormenting me by inserting his thoughts into my head and inducing me to buy things I had no use for.”[3]

In addition, psychosis either causes, or is a result of, profound disturbances in identity. In Psychoanalytic Diagnosis Nancy McWilliams writes that “People whose personalities are organized at an essentially psychotic level have grave difficulties with identity—so much so that they may not be fully sure that they exist, much less whether their existence is satisfying. They are deeply confused about who they are.”[4] Several psychotic shooters struggled with the fundamental question of whether or not they were human, and, if they were human, who were they?

Schizophrenia causes altered perceptions of the world, impaired social interactions, and a shattered sense of self. It is no surprise that people with schizophrenia are often depressed and suicidal. In fact, the suicide rate for schizophrenics is approximately one out of ten.[5] The overall rate for the nation is approximately one out of ten thousand.[6] In other words, schizophrenics are a thousand times more likely to kill themselves than the general population.

Though I have not personally evaluated any of the shooters in this chapter, they appear to have been either schizophrenic or schizotypal. Though none of them was diagnosed with these disorders prior to their attacks, several who survived their attacks were so diagnosed afterward. In each case, I explain the rationale for their categorization as psychotic shooters.



Luke Woodham

“If they could give the death penalty in this, I deserve it.”

Date: October 1, 1997

Age: 16

School: Pearl High School

Location: Pearl, MS

Killed: 3

Wounded: 7

Outcome: Tried to escape.

Apprehended. Prison

When Luke Woodham stated, “I am not insane! I am angry. This world has shit on me for the final time. . . . I killed because people like me are mistreated every day,”[7] many people believed that his attack was retaliation for bullying. The truth about Luke Woodham, however, is not that simple.

On October 1, 1997, Luke Woodham killed his mother in their home. He then drove her car to school and shot his former girlfriend and her best friend and then opened fire on others. He then got back in his mother’s car and tried to drive away but was blocked and apprehended.

Woodham’s father had left the family when Luke was young; Luke reportedly was devastated by this abandonment. His older brother, John, reportedly harassed Luke, but there is no evidence of anything out of the ordinary. When Woodham flunked ninth grade, his mother reportedly exhorted him to be more like his brother, whom Woodham referred to as “Mr. Popular.”[8] Woodham complained that his mother was intrusively involved in his life but also that she was so absent that he felt neglected. Friends of his testified that Mrs. Woodham was “just a normal mom.”[9]

Woodham was said to endure chronic taunting at school, reportedly being teased about being overweight. A peer commented, “Everybody picked on him. I felt real sorry for him.”[10] One of Woodham’s friends, however, stated that other kids had it far worse.[11] This doesn’t mean that Woodham was not badly mistreated, but, as is often the case, it is difficult to know what really occurred.

All his life Woodham loved his pets. He spent hours playing with and taking care of them. On April 14, 1997, however, under the direction of his friend Grant Boyette, Woodham engaged in a series of horrific acts against his dog, Sparkle, and eventually killed him.[12]

Despite claiming his attack was revenge for mistreatment, Woodham did not target anyone who picked on him. The only targeted victims were his mother and Christina Menefee, his former girlfriend.[13] A few weeks before the attack Woodham had asked Christina to get back together—she said no. The date of Woodham’s rampage was the one-year anniversary of their breakup. During his taped confession, Woodham said his rampage was due to the breakup with Christina.[14] This is a crucial point. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, he did not blame bullying; he blamed Christina’s rejection.

Despite Woodham’s conflicting reports about his mother’s behavior toward him, he confessed to the police, “I didn’t want to kill my mother; I do love my mother. I just wanted revenge on Christina and my mother—like, she wouldn’t just say ‘Go ahead, take the gun, take the car.’”[15] Thus, the only reason he gave for killing his mother is that she would not have let him take a gun to school and drive her car.

Though before the attack Woodham wrote, “I am not insane!” afterward he claimed that demons influenced him to commit murder: “I remember I woke up that morning and I’d seen demons that I always saw. . . . They said I was nothing and I would never be anything if I didn’t get to that school and kill those people.”[16]

Of all the factors that influenced Woodham, however, perhaps Grant Boyette was the most important. Boyette was the leader of the Kroth, a peer group that Woodham affiliated with, whose interests included Hitler, the occult, black magic, and Satanism.[17] Under Boyette’s influence, Woodham became interested in the occult. His interest intensified after he cast a spell on a boy and two days later the boy’s friend was killed by a car. At this point, Woodham became a believer in magic: “One second I was some kind of heartbroken idiot, and the next second I had complete control or complete power over a lot of things.”[18] Why was the idea of power so alluring? Woodham saw himself as “a short little fat boy with a crew cut and thick brown glasses. I was nothing, and I knew it.”[19]

Woodham testified about Boyette’s directives in court: “He told me I had to kill my mom. He told me I had to get the gun and the car and get my revenge on Christy and cause a reign of terror.”[20] Boyette reportedly hammered these ideas into Woodham, repeating them for hours. Woodham stated, “Everything I did was influenced by Grant. . . . I tried so hard to get his acceptance.”[21] Woodham’s claims about Boyette’s influence were supported by peers. One testified that Boyette was fascinated by Hitler’s ability to manipulate people and that he was able to influence Woodham.[22] Based on peers’ testimony, Boyette was charged with accessory to murder.

Was Woodham really psychotic? If, as he sometimes claimed, he both saw demons and heard them talking to him, then he experienced visual and auditory hallucinations that suggest schizophrenia. In the initial aftermath of the shooting, however, Woodham said nothing about demons. Perhaps he did not want to appear “crazy,” or perhaps he invented the symptoms later to excuse the attack. Even if he did not have hallucinations, however, there is evidence that Woodham was delusional.

A friend said that Woodham believed Boyette had power over demons, and Woodham reportedly believed that one of these demons was outside his room one night.[23] Woodham also believed he caused a boy’s death with a spell. These beliefs could constitute delusions or “magical thinking,” a less-severe disturbance in cognitive functioning. Such beliefs are in keeping with schizotypal personality disorder. For example, schizotypals “may be superstitious or preoccupied with paranormal phenomena” or “may believe that they have magical control over others.”[24]

Woodham, as is common among schizotypals, had significant social difficulties. He struggled to fit in with a peer group and did not do well with girls. He dated Christina Menefee but quickly alienated her. Schizotypals often strike people as odd, and this was true of Woodham: “During Luke’s infrequent appearances at school, he was so odd, disagreeable, and generally frightening that his teachers kept their distance.”[25] Even his friends found him “quite difficult to understand. Sometimes he seemed like he was from another planet.”[26]

When reality becomes too harsh, schizotypals often withdraw into themselves and create a fantasy world in which they are superior beings. Woodham, who had repeated ninth grade, believed he was intellectually superior to his peers. He was also interested in ideologies of power, including Nazism, magic, Satanism, and the works of Nietzsche. In fact, he cited Nietzsche’s Gay Science in his manifesto, and also used the term superman, referring to Nietzsche’s ideal of the man who stands above the masses.[27] Floundering in adolescence, Woodham was drawn to ideologies of power the same way he was drawn to the dominant personality of Grant Boyette. These sources of strength supported Woodham’s inadequate identity.

* * *

Woodham appears to have multiple features of schizotypal personality disorder: significant social difficulties, oddness that alienated both peers and adults, unusual perceptual experiences, and beliefs in demons and his own magical ability to control the lives of others. He also exhibited features that we will examine in other psychotic shooters: an inadequate sense of self, the search for strength through powerful friends or ideologies of power, and the attempt to transform himself from a helpless nobody into a superior being. He was so insecure that he tortured and killed his own pet and murdered his mother and the girl he claimed to love just so Boyette would accept him.

Michael Carneal

“I think I’m an alien but I’m not sure.”

Date: December 1, 1997

Age: 14

School: Heath High School

Location: West Paducah, KY

Killed: 3

Wounded: 5

Outcome: Surrendered.


Michael Carneal’s psychosis began at a young age. The average age of onset for schizophrenia in males is in their twenties, but some people exhibit symptoms in their teens. Carneal’s symptoms, consisting primarily of paranoia, appear to have begun when he reached puberty. According to the research conducted by Dr. Katherine Newman and her colleagues, Carneal was afraid to sleep in his bedroom and was terrified that monsters were under the bed and that strangers would climb through the windows. He covered the bathroom’s heat vents so snakes could not get him. In an effort to avoid being grabbed by monsters, he jumped from one piece of furniture to another.[28] When metal tools were found under his mattress after his rampage, Carneal explained they kept his legs from being cut off by a man with a chainsaw who lived under the house.[29] Carneal not only was delusional, he also had auditory hallucinations. The voices criticized and threatened him and eventually began commanding him to do things. On the day of the attack, the voices reportedly told him, “Do this for yourself.”[30]

Prior to the attack, Michael wrote a short piece titled “The Secret,” in which he wrote, “I have been led to believe that there is a secret in my family that my parents and my sister know. . . . I overheard my parents debating ‘whether they should tell me or not.’ I still don’t know what they were talking about. I think I’m an alien, but I’m not sure.”[31] It is not clear if the writing was fictional or autobiographical. If the latter, then Carneal doubted he was human.

Though Carneal’s family was by all accounts loving and supportive, there was a history of mental-health problems on the father’s side: “in previous generations, several relatives had been institutionalized for severe mental-health problems—including one who had been violent toward others and eventually committed suicide.”[32] By itself, however, schizophrenia does not account for Carneal’s rampage. What other factors were involved?

The family history of mental-health problems hit only Michael, not his older sister, Kelly. Kelly Carneal was an outstanding young woman who graduated as the class valedictorian. In addition, “she was musically talented, served as a section leader in the marching band, and made the all-state choir. She was also articulate, attractive, and popular with her peers.”[33] Michael Carneal, on the other hand, was a socially awkward kid whose odd behavior alienated many of his classmates. He was painfully aware of the disparity: “I have an overachieving sister, Kelly, who is a senior. I hate being even compared to her. . . . I am seriously mad at the world.”[34] Carneal apparently raged against the injustice of his situation. He and Kelly had the same parents and grew up in the same household, but she was a star and he, through no fault of his own, had significant problems. It wasn’t fair, and it made him mad.

Sibling rivalry was not the only factor that caused him distress. Though Carneal was not gay, a gossip column in the student newspaper implied that he was. This was devastating and sent him into a deep depression. Also, his peer relationships were problematic, but sorting out the truth is difficult. Carneal reported significant bullying. At 5'2" he was short, and other students allegedly pushed him around and harassed him.

Classmates and teachers, however, maintained that Carneal’s behavior was just as bad as what he endured. A peer said that “He also picked on other people. . . . [He was] always the one who teased everyone else.”[35] A teacher commented, the “media want to make it look like kids that become shooters are picked on until they just can’t take it anymore. But he was a picker, not a kid who was picked on.”[36] Dr. Katherine Newman concluded, “From his classmates’ perspective, Carneal was not picked on any more or less than other students, and he quite consistently picked on other students himself.”[37]

Dr. Dewey Cornell, who evaluated Carneal after his attack, said, “Other students experienced similar treatment . . . but Michael seemed more troubled by it.”[38] Dr. Newman and her team reached a similar conclusion: “We believe that his [Carneal’s] paranoia, fears, and misreading of social cues contributed to the shooting. They magnified the extent and meaning of the teasing and bullying that occurred.”[39]

Perhaps a bigger problem than bullying was envy. During his attack, Carneal did not target anyone who had picked on him; he targeted a group of popular, high-achieving students who met each morning for prayer before school: “He said he was envious of their popularity and their friendships and felt rejected by them.”[40] Besides the victims’ popularity, he had a crush on one of the girls, and another had rejected his request for a date. Perhaps he targeted them both because he envied their status and because they did not return his feelings.

Carneal’s group of friends may have influenced him by talking about getting guns and taking over the school or a mall. Carneal initially told police that it was a well-formed conspiracy and named his friends and who would use what kind of gun. He then stated that this wasn’t true, saying he told the police what it seemed they wanted to hear. Dr. Newman wrote, “We know that Michael’s capacity to read the subtleties of other people’s intentions was limited. He might well have imagined that they were planning to join in when they were merely contributing to hypothetical scenarios.”[41]

Carneal did, however, talk to his friends about his ideas for attacks. One friend said, “Michael has told me before that he thought it would be cool to walk down the hall shooting people.”[42] Another said Carneal talked about shooting school administrators: “We should go into their office . . . and shoot ’em while they’re in their offices.”[43] Because his friends listened to these ideas without objecting and without reporting Carneal to any adults, he may have taken this as approval. He may also have found encouragement in their conversations about taking over the school, even if they were just joking. Additionally, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, might have been an influence—Carneal had his work on his hard drive.

As external stresses took their toll and Carneal’s internal world deteriorated, he began his downward spiral. “He found an old handgun in his father’s closet and considered using it to end his life. He took a sewing needle and gouged a large mark on his arm. In his depressed and paranoid state, he came to feel that all of his former friends had turned against him and that students whispering and laughing in the hall were whispering and laughing about him. In the weeks before the shooting, he began to hear voices telling him to stand up for himself.”[44] Tragically, Carneal listened to the voices.

* * *

Two mental health professionals who evaluated Carneal after his attack concluded that he suffered from schizophrenia.[45] In addition, Carneal’s life contained multiple factors that appear in the lives of other psychotic shooters: the early onset of psychotic symptoms; an outstanding older sibling and the resulting comparisons and failure to measure up; peer issues including harassment, rejection, and envy; romantic failures; peer support for violence; and a role model for violence.

Andrew Wurst

“I died four years ago. I’ve already been dead and I’ve come back.”

Date: April 24, 1998

Age: 14

School: Parker Middle School

Location: Edinboro, PA

Killed: 1

Wounded: 3

Outcome: Surrendered.


Andrew Wurst did not live in the world we know—he dwelled in a delusional realm that resembled a bizarre science-fiction story. He believed that only he was real; everyone else was “unreal.” Other people were “programmed to act and say what the government, mad scientists, or a psycho want them to say.”[46] Only he could actually think his own thoughts. He had returned from the future to carry out a mission, but an archenemy was trying to thwart him. His parents were not really his parents; he was brought to Earth when he was four years old and placed with them. Finally, “We are all in reality in hospital beds being monitored and programmed by these mad scientists.”[47]

We know that Wurst did not invent these symptoms after his attack in order to plead insanity because he had shared his delusions with his girlfriend a couple of months before his rampage. The conversation reportedly was so disturbing that she asked him to stop telling her such things. In addition to his multiple delusions, Wurst had auditory hallucinations. A letter written before the attack said, “the voices are coming again.”[48] What the voices said to him is not known.

Wurst was so delusional that in the immediate aftermath of the shooting he was babbling, “I died four years ago. I’ve already been dead, and I’ve come back. It doesn’t matter anymore. None of this is real.”[49] Later, he stated that he was in jail for killing an unreal person. There was nothing wrong with this, he said, because the victim was already dead or unreal.

The victim was John Gillette, a teacher whom Wurst had never had. The shooting occurred at a school-sponsored dinner dance at a local venue named Nick’s Place. Wurst killed Gillette and wounded another teacher and two students. He had planned to kill himself and even left a suicide note at his home. When James Strand, the owner of Nick’s Place, pointed a shotgun at Wurst and told him to drop his gun, Wurst hesitated but then complied.

Wurst reportedly told peers he planned to shoot at least one girl who had rejected him and possibly two others. This did not happen. Gillette was not a premeditated target, but he may have been singled out. Why? Perhaps because he had announced that Wurst won a door prize. After the attack, Wurst disclosed that this made him uncomfortable.[50]

There were no reports that Wurst had been bullied. He hated the “popular students” and athletes because he viewed them as stuck up.[51] As with Michael Carneal, Wurst apparently envied more popular peers. Though he was not popular, he had friends. He reportedly was known for being weird and saying strange things, so no one took him seriously when he talked about going on a rampage. He even tried to recruit a friend to join him. As with other shooters, the lack of objection to his plans from his peers may have served as encouragement.

Wurst also had active encouragement to kill. A teacher overheard a student talking to Wurst about killing his—Wurst’s—mother: “We’ll wait until she gets back, and as she’s coming in the door, that’s when you’ll shoot her, and we’ll just say we didn’t know who she was, that we thought she was an intruder.”[52] Whether or not this boy also encouraged Wurst to commit a school shooting is unknown.

Wurst had also talked to a girl about shooting his parents. He had conflict with his father, but there is no evidence that he was abused. Perhaps he wanted to kill his parents because he believed they were not really his parents and had thus deceived him his whole life. Or maybe his anger was an exaggerated response to normal parent/teenager conflict. Writing to a friend, Wurst said of his parents, “Fuck them thanks to them I’m in my shit life on the edge of insanedity [sic], murder and suicide.”[53]

How bad was Wurst’s family? There is no indication of violence or abuse in the home. There was depression on both sides of the family, however, and a paternal aunt had been in a psychiatric hospital for years. His parents disagreed about how to raise Wurst; his mother was more lenient and his father more strict. Wurst had two older brothers who showed none of the symptoms their younger brother struggled with. They helped out in their father’s landscaping business, and, though Wurst tried to help, he was not as good a worker. His father saw him as lazy, which Wurst resented. He made disparaging comments to his friends about his parents, saying his father was an alcoholic and his mother was a prostitute. There is no evidence to support these statements; perhaps he lied out of anger, or perhaps he believed what he said.

Like Woodham and Carneal, Wurst had role models for violence and ideological influences, including Napoleon, Hitler, and the Antichrist.[54] In addition, Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson’s rampage in Jonesboro, Arkansas, seems to have influenced Wurst. The Jonesboro attack occurred on March 24, 1998. Shortly after this, Wurst “said he was going to do something like that someday.” He also remarked, “That Jonesboro thing, that would be like me bringing a gun to the dinner dance.”[55] Wurst committed his attack on April 24, 1998, exactly one month after the Jonesboro shooting.

Why did the attack occur when it did? There may have been several factors. Wurst’s girlfriend broke up with him, and two other girls turned down his invitation to the dinner dance. He began using marijuana and drinking alcohol. For someone who was already out of touch with reality, substance abuse may have exacerbated his psychosis. At least one peer encouraged him to commit murder. His interest in Hitler and the Antichrist may have helped him to justify murder. Finally, the shooting in Jonesboro may have provided the impetus to actually carry out the attack.

* * *

The psychiatrist who evaluated Wurst after the attack concluded that he was psychotic but was too young to be labeled schizophrenic; he described Wurst as “preschizophrenic.”[56] Wurst had many features in common with Luke Woodham and Michael Carneal, including the early onset of psychosis. Like the others, he had higher-functioning older siblings and resented being compared to them. Three girls rejected him shortly before the attack. Peers encouraged him to commit violence. He was hostile toward high-status classmates. He had role models for violence and was influenced by ideologies of power. Also, where Carneal may have thought he was an alien, Wurst firmly believed that he was. This indicated a profound disturbance in his identity.

Kipland Kinkel

“I wish I had been aborted.”

Date: May 20–21, 1998

Age: 15

School: Thurston High School

Location: Springfield, OR

Killed: 4

Wounded: 25

Outcome: Intended suicide;

tackled, apprehended. Prison

Like Andrew Wurst, Kip Kinkel was impressed by the Jonesboro shooting. He, too, said the attack was “cool” and that “somebody should do that around here.”[57] Also like Wurst, Kinkel tried to recruit a peer for his rampage, saying he had a better plan than Golden and Johnson, but the boy did not take him seriously. Two months after Jonesboro, and one month after Wurst’s attack, Kinkel killed his parents. The following day he went to school and shot twenty-seven people.

Even before the attack in Jonesboro, Kinkel had talked about bringing a gun to school and shooting people.[58] He also admired the Unabomber and had even given an oral report on making bombs. After his attack, his neighborhood had to be evacuated because of the numerous explosives he left in his house. Thus, external influences on Kinkel included the Jonesboro attack, his admiration for the Unabomber, and his friends’ passive encouragement. Why was he vulnerable to these influences? Based on Kinkel’s testimony, by the time he committed his attack at age fifteen, he had been psychotic for three years.

The Kinkel family had a history of severe mental-health problems. At least nine relatives had been institutionalized.[59] A great-uncle believed a police officer was a Nazi soldier; the officer shot him in self-defense when the uncle tried to stab him. Two paternal uncles were institutionalized with schizophrenia. His mother’s nephew believed he was the Second Coming of Christ and threatened his workplace with a homemade bomb. Other relatives were depressed to the point of being suicidal or had auditory hallucinations.[60] Clearly, Kinkel was born with significant genetic loading for major psychological problems.

Kinkel first had hallucinations when he was twelve. “I was on my driveway, looking at some bushes,” he told his psychologist, “and a voice said, ‘You need to kill everyone, everyone in the world.’ . . . It scared the shit out of me. I was confused. It seemed like something was seriously wrong. I ran into the house and cried in my room.”[61] Kinkel said one voice was authoritarian and commanding, a second was very critical of him, and the third repeated what the others said. Sometimes he heard them talking to each other about him.

Kinkel also had multiple delusions. He believed the United States was facing an imminent invasion by China; he sought to arm himself in preparation for the attack. He believed a plague was imminent; he wanted to stockpile supplies for when society broke down. He believed he had a computer chip in his brain and wondered if the chip broadcast the voices he heard: “when they did an MRI, I thought they would find a chip or something in my head put there by the government. . . . Maybe that’s the way they are controlling me.”[62] Though Kinkel saw a psychiatrist and a psychologist for depression prior to his attack, he deliberately kept his psychotic symptoms secret to avoid the stigma of being seen as “crazy.” As a result, his schizophrenia was not diagnosed until after his attack.[63]

Kinkel’s sister, Kristin, was untouched by schizophrenia. She was five and a half years older than Kip and was pretty, athletic, and popular. She received a cheerleading scholarship to the University of Hawaii. In comparison, Kip repeated first grade due to physical and emotional immaturity. Though he was bright, he struggled in school and was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia. He did not have an easy time growing up. He reportedly was “hyperactive, insecure, extremely sensitive and likely to have temper tantrums from his earliest years. He cried easily and was smaller than others his age.”[64]

Kinkel’s academic struggles were particularly problematic in his family; his parents were teachers who valued academic success. His father also valued athletic prowess; unfortunately, Kinkel was not a good athlete. As a result, he and his father had a very conflicted relationship. His sister’s successes made things even harder for him. As Kristin said, “I know he felt compared. I’m sure it was hard.”[65]

Was Kinkel bullied? No. In fact, he had an explosive temper, and some students feared him. Once a peer reportedly pushed him, and Kinkel, who was trained in martial arts, kicked the boy in the head, resulting in a two-day suspension. Shortly after that, he threw a pencil at a boy and was suspended for three days. Kinkel made fun of other kids but reacted with fury when someone dared to disparage him: “Kip’s experience of being the victim of such taunts was minimal, probably less than what passes for ‘normal’ in many schools. Instead, he was more often the one who intimidated others.”[66]

He had multiple friends but despite this felt very alone. He wrote in his journal, “I feel like everyone is against me, but no one ever makes fun of me, mainly because they think I’m a psycho.”[67] He also got drunk on occasion, and this probably did not help his state of mind. Kinkel had homicidal thoughts toward a star football player who was dating the girl Kinkel was interested in. He apparently hated him out of envy.

Kinkel knew there was something very wrong with him. He wrote in his journal, “Why aren’t I normal?”[68] He was devastated by his sense of being damaged. He even seemed to question his identity. One of the first things he wrote in his journal was, “I don’t know who I am.”[69]

* * *

Kinkel shared several features with the other psychotic shooters: a family history of mental-health problems, early onset psychosis, a much higher-functioning older sibling, peer encouragement, substance abuse, and role models for violence, including the Unabomber, Andrew Golden, and Mitchell Johnson. He also exhibited homicidal envy toward at least one peer. Finally, he was painfully aware that he was psychologically impaired and struggled to understand who he was.

Dylan Klebold

“I just want something I can never have—The story of my existence.”

Date: April 20, 1999

Age: 17

School: Columbine High


Location: Jefferson Co., CO

Killed: 5

Wounded: 10

Outcome: Suicide

Dylan Klebold was a complicated person. As a child, he was unusually shy and insecure. He lacked confidence to initiate activities, so he followed his peers. According to a childhood friend, “I always had to say, ‘We’re going to go here to play. We’re going down to the creek now,’ or whatever.”[70] In adolescence, Klebold experienced profound social anxiety. He frequently wrote in his journal about his loneliness, emotional suffering, and insecurities. Based on his journal and the reports of people who knew him, he appears to have had avoidant personality disorder, which is characterized by “a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.”[71]

Klebold was so ill equipped to deal with the social realities of his life that his mental functioning deteriorated. According to Dr. Theodore Millon, schizotypal personality disorder can emerge through the deterioration of an avoidant personality. This appears to be what happened with Klebold. Unfortunately, Klebold kept his psychological difficulties to himself and thus was never diagnosed or treated.

People with schizotypal personalities have difficulty functioning in reality. They withdraw into their own mental worlds and create alternative realities to compensate for their inadequate identities. In Millon’s words, this is a process of “constructing new worlds of self-made reality.”[72] For example, though Klebold was painfully shy and insecure, he developed an internal world in which he looked down on the masses of humanity as inferior “zombies.”

Klebold had other schizotypal traits, too. He struck many people as odd, goofy, or weird,[73] which is common for schizotypals. His journal reveals a fragmented sense of self and profound identity issues. Like Carneal, Wurst, and Kinkel, Klebold struggled to understand who he was, apparently feeling—if not believing—that he was not human. For example, Klebold wrote, “I lack the true human nature that Dylan owned.”[74] This is characteristic of Klebold’s writings—writing about himself as if he were somehow apart from himself, as if I and Dylan were separate entities. We see this again in his comment, “I wonder how/when I got so fucked up w[ith] my mind, existence, problem—when Dylan Benet [sic] Klebold got covered up by this entity containing Dylan’s body.”[75] Klebold once began a journal entry by writing his name: “Dylan Klebold.” He then crossed out his name and wrote, “Fuck that,” with an arrow pointing to the crossed out name. Underneath this, he wrote, “Me.”[76] Again, he seemed to think that me and Dylan Klebold were separate beings.

Klebold also wrote about being nonhuman: “Being made a human/Without the possibility of BEING human.”[77] In another passage, he wrote, “Does that make me a non-human? YES.”[78] Thus, like Michael Carneal who may have believed he was an alien, and Andrew Wurst who was convinced he was an alien, Klebold also seemed to believe he was not human. In fact, Klebold often referred to himself as a god. He wrote, “I am a true god,” referred to “the one thing that made me a god,” and declared, “I am the god of everything.”[79] This exemplifies how schizotypals create alternative realities to give themselves the status that is so sorely lacking in their real lives.

Klebold’s extreme dependence is also significant. In Why Kids Kill I wrote about the extent to which he presented himself differently in Eric Harris’s presence than he did with other people or in the privacy of his journal. Klebold felt so desperately alone and inadequate that he couldn’t risk losing Harris as a friend. As a result, he was willing to do anything—even kill people—to win Harris’s approval. This parallels Luke Woodham’s willingness to do anything to gain the acceptance of Grant Boyette.

Klebold also appears to have absorbed ideas from Charles Manson. He wrote a paper about Manson for school, his writings echoed Manson’s romanticized ideas about death, and he even imitated Manson’s followers by spray-painting “Death to Pigs” on a local pawnshop.[80]

Apparently to compensate for his inner emptiness, Klebold created an internal identity as a superior being, and an external relationship with Eric Harris that required him to become a cold-blooded killer. If this conceptualization is accurate, it explains how shy, anxious Dylan Klebold transformed himself into a figure of power to compensate for his woeful, inferior self.

The change in Klebold was evident well before the attack. In his last two years of high school he became markedly angry and belligerent. For a life-long introvert, this was a drastic change in behavior. There are numerous reports of Klebold’s being aggressive, intimidating, and threatening. He openly made derogatory comments about teachers, swore in class, walked out of class and slammed the door, bullied other students, vandalized the homes of classmates, and generally alienated many peers and teachers.[81]

Despite the widespread belief that he and Harris were bullied mercilessly by jocks, Klebold’s journal makes clear that he admired and envied jocks for living the kind of life he dreamed of for himself. He wrote, “I see jocks having fun, friends, women, ALIVE,”[82] and that he “hated the happiness that they have.”[83] Though he did not complain about jocks, he did complain about being picked on by various relatives (but not his parents). Klebold apparently resented his brother, Byron, for being popular and athletic, and because Byron “ripped” on him.[84]

Klebold sank into a deep depression in which he exaggerated and obsessed about his misery. At times he recognized how good his life was: “let’s see what I have that’s good: A nice family, a good house, food, a couple of good friends, & possessions.”[85] Despite this, he later lost all perspective: “Let’s sum up my life . . . the most miserable existence in the history of time.”[86] He also wrote, “I am in eternal suffering, in infinite directions in infinite realities.”[87] It is no surprise that he wanted to die.

* * *

Klebold resembles other psychotic shooters in many ways. He was the youngest child with an older sibling he resented, he had peer influence for murder (Eric Harris) as well as a role model for violence (Charles Manson), and he developed grandiose ideas about himself. He smoked marijuana and drank frequently. He wanted desperately to have a girlfriend and had crushes but never established a romantic relationship; this was a devastating failure for him. He felt profoundly alienated from, and envious of, his peers. His alienation was so severe that he did not even feel like a human being. Finally, he was deeply depressed, obsessed with his own suffering, and suicidal.

Alvaro Castillo

“I believe that I was stopped from suicide by God because

I have to do another massacre.”

Date: August 30, 2006

Age: 18

School: Orange High School

Location: Hillsborough, NC

Killed: 1

Wounded: 2

Outcome: Suicidal.

Surrendered. Prison

Alvaro Castillo wanted to kill people in order to save them. He was profoundly delusional with a moralistic ideology that drove him to protect people from the evils of the world by murdering them.[88]

Castillo’s family structure differed from that of the previous psychotic shooters, who were the youngest and most troubled children in their families. Castillo was the oldest surviving child in his family (his father had a son from a previous relationship who died young in El Salvador). After the father left El Salvador, he moved to California where he met his future wife, Vicky, who had emigrated from Spain. Together they had Alvaro and two daughters. One daughter reportedly suffered from bulimia; the other was diagnosed with autism.[89]

His mother’s family had significant psychological disturbances: “Vicky and seven of her nine siblings suffer[ed] from severe mental illness.”[90] This reportedly included depression, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders.[91] Vicky experienced panic attacks, and after her marriage she became depressed.[92] Though there is no information about the mental health of the father’s side of the family, he was a disturbed man who physically abused his wife.[93] Castillo was too afraid to intervene, but his younger sister, Victoria, would sometimes step in to stop the violence. Because of Castillo’s fear of his father, his mother called him a coward.[94] Castillo may have resented his sister for being more courageous than he was.

When the children were sick, instead of seeking medical services the father reportedly made them take cold showers, believing that cold water was a cure-all. When Castillo turned five years old, his father told him that childhood was over and he could no longer have friends. This man was so controlling and violent that Vicky wanted to leave with the children and return to Spain. The father threatened that if she left, he would kill her.[95] Despite the stress at home, Castillo was reportedly an excellent student who was well behaved and eager to please at school. He did not fit in well with his peers, seeming shy and odd.

At age eight, Castillo was disgusted when a friend showed him pornography. At fifteen, he babysat a toddler and reportedly felt sexually aroused; this caused overwhelming guilt, and he worried that he might be a pedophile. He was so disturbed that he “resorted to self-flagellation with a stick, prayer, rigid eating, and exercise to cope with his agitation.”[96]

In adolescence, Castillo became obsessed with guns, mass murderers, and school shooters, particularly Eric Harris. Despite his extreme discomfort with sexuality, Castillo wrote in his journal, “Eric is just so good-looking. I can’t believe he couldn’t get a date for the prom. If I was a girl, I would have gone to the prom with him. Does that sound gay, straight or bi[sexual]?”[97] Castillo also became obsessed with a girl he knew, but apparently there was no romantic relationship. After graduating from high school, Castillo joined the National Guard so he could learn to use weapons. This was a miserable experience for him, so his psychiatrist got him discharged.

Castillo planned to kill himself on April 20, 2006, the seventh anniversary of the Columbine attack. His father, however, intervened, and Castillo was hospitalized. He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and possible psychosis.[98] Castillo interpreted his father’s intervention in his suicide to mean that God wanted him to live so that he could carry out his own rampage attack. Perhaps to inspire himself, he convinced his mother to take him from their home in North Carolina to Littleton, Colorado. They visited Columbine High School, the house where Eric Harris had lived, and the pizza shop where he had worked. While there, Castillo bought a trench coat in imitation of Harris.

Castillo had multiple psychotic symptoms. A court report detailed some of his paranoid delusions, saying that “He believed he was being watched through cameras in air vents. He believed that he was being watched by a picture of a woman in the bathroom; he turned the picture over whenever he used the bathroom. His belief that he was being watched led him to keep the blinds in his room closed. He was afraid that the FBI or the CIA was watching him, and he wore a jacket and a hat to conceal himself from them.”[99]

Castillo was obsessed with sin and sacrifice. He viewed the world as a sinful place and believed that murdering students would protect them from the world’s evil. He wrote, “Sacrifice will occur and those children will be freed from evil. . . . We have to die and leave this sick, drinking, sex-crazed, drug using, sadistic, masochistic world.”[100] He also wrote, “I think I must do a massacre. . . . And I’m not doing it for revenge. I love that school. I’m doing it to save them.”[101]

He carried out his attack on August 30, 2006, because it was Kip Kinkel’s birthday. He shot his father seven times and wrote about feeling both happy and remorseful. He then went to his former high school, set off smoke bombs, and opened fire outside the school. He wounded two students before being stopped by an armed officer who told him to drop his weapon and lie down. Castillo did as directed, but told the officer, “Shoot me. Shoot me. You’ll love it.”[102]

On the day of his attack, Castillo recognized that it was morally wrong: “I am sorry! Sorry for everything. I am sick. Mentally ill.”[103] After the attack, however, when his mother asked if he wanted to go to confession, Castillo said, “what do I have to confess about? I didn’t do anything bad. I did the right thing.”[104]

While he was in prison, Castillo reported more psychotic symptoms. “He told a doctor at the hospital that he had an imaginary twin named Red who had told him to commit the shootings at Orange High School. He said that Red told him to do terrible things all the time—to hurt and rape people and to make people rape Alvaro. He said it was the first time he had ever acted on any of Red’s orders.”[105] Though prosecution and defense typically argue about psychosis, in this case, “Every mental health expert who examined Alvaro Castillo after the shootings agreed that he was psychotic.”[106]

* * *

Castillo resembles other psychotic shooters in his paranoid delusions, his poor social functioning, and his obsession with other killers. He differs, however, in a number of ways. Unlike the other psychotic shooters reviewed so far, Castillo was neither the youngest nor the most impaired child in his family. Also, according to multiple reports, Castillo was an emotionally abused child. Nevertheless, he is categorized as a psychotic shooter rather than a traumatized shooter for three reasons. First, though his father abused his mother, it is not clear how abusive he was to Castillo. Second, the family did not have many features associated with those of traumatized shooters. Third, Castillo’s school rampage was driven by his psychotic thoughts.

Castillo also differs in having had no peer influence to commit the attack. Also, there is no evidence of substance abuse. Finally, his delusions were such that he believed he was doing God’s will and saving innocent people. His motivation was fundamentally different from that of other shooters.

Pekka-Eric Auvinen

“I can’t say I belong to same race as the lousy, miserable, arrogant, selfish human race! No! I have evolved one step above!”

Date: November 7, 2007

Age: 18

School: Jokela High School

Location: Jokela, Finland

Killed: 8

Wounded: 12

Outcome: Suicide

Pekka-Eric Auvinen did not view his attack as a school shooting but as political terrorism. In his mind, he was instigating an international revolution to topple totalitarian regimes.[107] In reality, he shot people at his high school.

Auvinen reportedly came from a stable family that included his parents and a younger brother. Auvinen progressed normally in school and had friends, but during adolescence his friends became fewer and his school performance declined. The official report by the Finnish Ministry of Justice states that in the upper grades he had no friends,[108] though the same report noted that Auvinen talked to friends about shooting and buying a gun.[109]

Auvinen was taunted at school. This may have been because of his size: “He suffered from the fact that he was quite short.”[110] In addition, “he dressed more neatly than others, he expressed his extreme opinions vociferously, and his interests were generally different from those of other youngsters. He was also bullied for his insecurity and involuntary blushing.”[111]

It is noteworthy that his interests and opinions triggered some of his harassment. Auvinen was fascinated by school shootings and discussed Columbine and other rampages at home, at school, and online. He admired the Unabomber and believed that violence was an acceptable way to solve problems. Auvinen even hinted that he would carry out a rampage attack. He also became interested in the Communist Party and, later, the Nazis.[112] These interests did not endear him to his peers: “Statements by teachers and students confirm that politically radical views did not help Auvinen to socialize with other young people.”[113]

Auvinen apparently was also influenced by Finnish ecologist Pentti Linkola, who is well-known in Finland for his extreme views. Auvinen went so far as to make a video tribute to him that included the following Linkola quotes: “A minority can never have any other effective means to influence the course of matters but through the use of violence,” and “I wish that death to mankind comes soon.”[114]

In 2007 Auvinen had his military call-up examination: “His fitness classification was E for mental-health reasons, which would have meant deferment for three years.”[115] He reportedly did not mention his depression or suicidal thoughts. Given that he hid his depression from the examiner, it is not known why he was deferred.

According to his diary, Auvinen had been planning his attack since March 2007.[116] He wrote that “he was going to initiate an operation against humanity with the purpose of killing as many people as possible.”[117] His parents reported that in the months preceding the attack, Auvinen’s grades declined, he increasingly isolated himself in his room, and he spent much of his time on the computer.[118] His mother noted that Auvinen became even more fearful of social situations in the summer of 2007.[119] A peer noticed that he was acting strangely and that “he withdrew into his shell.”[120]

In August 2007 “other youngsters noticed that his behaviour had become unusual and told a youth worker about their concern. This youth worker received similar reports from several young people up to the end of October 2007. The perpetrator behaved threateningly toward other youngsters, saying that they would die as a result of a white revolution.”[121] What Auvinen meant by a white revolution is not clear; perhaps he wanted to rid Europe of nonwhite people.

In the summer of 2007, Auvinen found an online girlfriend. When she found a new boyfriend in the fall, Auvinen became verbally aggressive, and he, the young woman, and her new boyfriend exchanged insults online. Interestingly, the night before his attack, Auvinen apologized for his behavior.[122]

Auvinen was very active online and posted many videos, often celebrating Hitler and the attack at Columbine. In addition, some of them included “sadomasochistic sexual fantasies.”[123] This material included “violent pornographic video clips and fantasies of near-rape. . . . The videos portray innocent-looking nude or semi-nude women helplessly bound, gagged, and struggling to get away. These pictures are coupled with his fantasies of abducting women and forcing them to submit to his will.”[124] Auvinen commented in one of his videos that women “are cheating whores, lying sluts and manipulative bitches. They are best when they are dominated, bound & gagged.”[125] Despite his misogyny, he did not appear to target women in his attack.

Though Auvinen committed his rampage at his school, he had considered other sites for his attack. He reportedly posted online “that he might commit a spree killing in the Finnish parliament because of the corrupt nature of politicians.”[126] It was also reported that he “even considered going on a shooting rampage in a shopping centre but thought that school would be better because shooting in a school would give him more public attention.”[127] These comments, along with his reference to a “white revolution,” indicate that he had no particular rage toward people in his school.

Auvinen left several pieces of writing, including his YouTube profile, a manifesto, his likes and dislikes, and information about his upcoming attack.[128] Much of what he wrote echoes the writings of Eric Harris. In fact, one of his screen names was NaturalSelector89, borrowing from Harris’s rants about natural selection.

Auvinen’s social anxiety and frequent blushing suggest that, like Dylan Klebold, he had avoidant personality disorder. He became increasingly withdrawn through adolescence, the same time that he developed an interest in extreme ideologies.[129] This may have been the withdrawal into the self that schizotypals often experience.

Though he was never diagnosed as schizotypal, Auvinen had multiple features of this disorder. For example, he exhibited an odd combination of traits that resemble those of other schizotypal school shooters: he was socially anxious and yet was so vocal about his extreme political views and his interest in violence that he generated hostile responses. This was noted with Dylan Klebold, as well, and suggests poor interpersonal skills.

Auvinen was also teased about his clothing. His peers reported that he “often wore the same clothes to school—brown leather jacket, black trousers and checkered shirt—and usually he carried a briefcase.”[130] Schizotypals often have an odd appearance, including unusual clothing: “Many dress in strange and unusual ways, often appearing to prefer a ‘personal uniform’ from day to day. . . . The tendency to keep to peculiar clothing styles sets them distinctively apart from their peers.”[131] There were also multiple reports that his behavior became unusual, and though this could mean many things, it may have been the eccentric behavior that is seen in schizotypals.

Finally, Auvinen’s ideology revealed the distorted thinking that is in line with schizotypal functioning. He was insecure and prone to blushing in public, yet he created an internal reality in which he was a godlike being who looked down on the masses of humanity, whom he called “retards,” “robots,” and “vegetables.” He wrote, “I can’t say I belong to same race as the lousy, miserable, arrogant, selfish human race! No! I have evolved one step above! . . . Compared to you retarded masses, I am actually godlike.”[132]

He not only had a grandiose conception of himself but of his attack as well. “My enemies will run and hide in fear when mentioning my name,” he wrote. “Long live the revolution. . . . We must rise against the enslaving, corrupted, and totalitarian regimes and overthrow the tyrants.”[133] This bears no connection to what he actually did. He shot people at his high school, but he believed he was initiating the overthrow of national governments. There was no congruence between his view of himself and reality. He was not a hero or martyr or revolutionary; he was a psychotic young man gunning down innocent people.

* * *

Auvinen, like Woodham and Klebold, fits the model of schizotypal young men who felt like social failures and created alternative identities for themselves as superior beings. Whereas Woodham and Klebold had actual friends who led them to murder (Grant Boyette and Eric Harris, respectively), Auvinen modeled himself on Eric Harris. Though he did not have any direct peer encouragement, he did talk extensively about school shootings with his peers. Where Woodham was attracted to the ideas of Nietzsche, and Klebold studied Charles Manson, Auvinen was influenced by the writings of Pentti Linkola, the Nazis, and Eric Harris.


As noted earlier, my analyses are based on the available information. In addition, what is known about each shooter varies in consistency and quality. Keeping these limitations in mind, I conceptualize Michael Carneal, Andrew Wurst, Kip Kinkel, and Alvaro Castillo as schizophrenic and Luke Woodham, Dylan Klebold, and Pekka-Eric Auvinen as schizotypal.

Though all seven shooters had serious psychological disturbances, only three—Kinkel, Castillo, and Auvinen—received mental-health treatment prior to their attacks. They were treated for depression or anxiety. Castillo was diagnosed with possible psychosis; none of the others was identified as psychotic prior to his attack.

All the psychotic shooters had frustrating love lives, with breakups and rejections that contributed to their anguish and rage. Though these are common experiences for adolescents, the shooters’ mental-health problems presumably exacerbated the impact of these events. The psychotic shooters all drew inspiration from notorious figures or ideologies of power. Several used these external influences to transform themselves from weak, anxious adolescents into formidable figures. In addition to attaching themselves to, or imitating, figures of power, these shooters also created alternative identities for themselves.

Dr. Theodore Millon notes that schizotypals tend to create unreal identities out of their fear of losing their sense of self. This fear “may overwhelm these patients, driving them into a bizarre psychotic state in which they create tangible illusions to which they can relate, self-referential ideas that give them a significance they otherwise lack.”[134]

Millon also describes what happens when schizotypals are stressed beyond their ability to endure. “Many schizotypals,” he writes, “have stored up intense repressed anxieties and hostilities throughout their lives. Once released, these feelings burst out in a rampaging flood. The backlog of suspicions, fears, and animosities has been ignited and now explodes in a frenzied cathartic discharge.”[135] This explains how shy, anxious people can ultimately commit murder.

Three of the shooters killed family members prior to their school attacks. Luke Woodham killed his mother, Kip Kinkel shot both his parents, and Alvaro Castillo murdered his father. It is unclear why Woodham killed his mother; it may have been simply because Grant Boyette told him to. Kinkel may have killed his father out of hatred and his mother out of love (in his mind). Having killed his father he didn’t want his mother to have to live with the agony of knowing that her son killed her husband. Castillo apparently killed his father in revenge for years of domestic violence. Though Andrew Wurst did not kill his parents, he had talked about doing so. His motivation for wanting to murder his parents remains unclear. He may have sought revenge for his perceived mistreatment by his father or been motivated by his delusion that his parents were not really his parents.

In fact, several of these perpetrators had problematic relationships with their fathers—Wurst, Kinkel, and Castillo. Luke Woodham also had a troubled relationship with his father—not because of mistreatment but because Mr. Woodham left the family, leaving a gaping wound in Luke’s life. There is no evidence that Carneal, Klebold, and Auvinen had troubled relationships with their parents.

Several of these shooters were unusually sensitive to being hurt. They had an exaggerated sense of the wrongs they suffered. Dr. Cornell commented about Michael Carneal that, “because of his personality and mental condition, Michael was sensitive to feeling mistreated and may have reacted strongly to incidents that other students were able to tolerate.”[136] A forensic psychiatrist who evaluated Carneal stated, “He hoarded these perceived injustices and dwelled on them rather than letting them go as many kids would.”[137]

Similarly, a psychiatrist who evaluated Andrew Wurst noted personality features that “caused him to be hypersensitive to the rejection of others, as well as the demands placed upon him by his family.”[138] Luke Woodham was also unusually sensitive to being hurt—he took things harder than other kids and obsessed about his misfortunes. Dylan Klebold magnified his adolescent angst into “the most miserable existence in the history of time.”[139]

These shooters had masochistic personalities, meaning they dwelled on their misfortunes, exaggerated their suffering, and obsessed about being victims. As described by Dr. David Shapiro, such people “are chronically aggrieved, constantly preoccupied with their suffering. They complain a great deal about having been victimized or unfairly treated.”[140] They engage in “the chronic, usually bitter exaggeration and ‘nursing’ of humiliations, defeats, and injustices.”[141] The FBI identified school shooters as often being “injustice collectors,” people who go through life keeping a mental account of all the wrongs they’ve suffered. This is another name for a masochistic personality.

Speaking generally, the psychotic secondary school shooters grew up in the shadow of higher-functioning siblings. They struggled socially and failed in their attempts at romance. They were alienated from their peers and misfits in their families. They did not recover from being hurt, holding onto and magnifying their pain. They questioned their identities, as many teenagers are wont to do, but often took it further and even questioned their status as humans. To compensate for their fragile, inadequate identities, they attached themselves to sources of strength in the form of dominant peers, infamous role models, or ideologies of power. Several shooters were encouraged by their peers to kill. As they progressed through adolescence, they heard voices, developed paranoid delusions, and created internal realities where they were superior beings. The combination of anguish and alienation, rage at the injustice of their existence, envy of their peers, and active or passive encouragement put them on the path toward rampage.


E. Fuller Torrey, Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients, and Providers (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 2.


Torrey, Surviving Schizophrenia, 1.


Torrey, Surviving Schizophrenia, 10.


Nancy McWilliams, Psychoanalytic Diagnosis: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process, 2nd ed. (New York: Guilford, 2011), 60.


American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (Arlington: American Psychiatric Association, 2000), 304.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Facts and Figures: Suicide Deaths,”


Jon Bellini, Child’s Prey (New York: Kensington, 2001), 127.


“A Community and Its Shooter,” Courier-Journal (Louisville), December 8, 1998.


Lisa Popyk, “‘I Knew It Wouldn’t Be Right,’” Cincinnati Post, November 9, 1998.


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 36.


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 87.


“A Community and Its Shooter.”


“Teen Killer Sobs as Confession Played in Court,”, June 11, 1998,


“Teen Killer Sobs.”


Popyk, “‘I Knew It Wouldn’t Be Right.’”


“Teen-Ager Accused of Killing Says He Got Demons’ Orders,” New York Times, June 5, 1998,


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 64, 68.


Luke T. Woodham v. State of Mississippi, NO. 1998-KA-01479-SCT (1998), 4, available online at


Popyk, “‘I Knew It Wouldn’t Be Right.’”


“Conspiracy Charges are Dropped in Mississippi School Shootings,” New York Times, July 23, 1998,


“Teen Apologizes for School Killings,” Associated Press, November 11, 1997.


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 205, 76.


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 109.


American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 697–98.


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 154.


Bellini, Child’s Prey, 45.


“A Community and Its Shooter.”


Katherine Newman, Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings (New York: Basic Books, 2004), 24.


Dewey Cornell, School Violence: Fears Versus Facts (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006), 46.


Cornell, School Violence, 46.


Newman, Rampage, 26.


Cornell, School Violence, 41.


Cornell, School Violence, 41.


Newman, Rampage, 134.


Newman, Rampage, 64.


Newman, Rampage, 98.


David Harding, Jal Mehta, and Katherine Newman, “No Exit: Mental Illness, Marginality, and School Violence in West Paducah, Kentucky,” in Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence, ed. National Research Council (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2003), 146.


Cornell, School Violence, 42.


Harding, Mehta, and Newman, “No Exit,” 150.


“Boy Says He Was ‘Mad at the World’ When He Shot Classmates,” Oak Ridger Online (Tennessee), April 6, 2000.


Newman, Rampage, 31.


Jim Adams and James Malone, “Outsider’s Destructive Behavior Spiraled into Violence,” Courier-Journal (Louisville), March 18, 1999, 17A.


Adams and Malone, “Outsider’s Destructive Behavior.”


Cornell, School Violence, 42.


Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Michael Carneal, Nos. 2006-SC-000653-DG, 2007-SC-000203-DG (2008), available online at


William DeJong, Joel Epstein, and Thomas Hart, “Bad Things Happen in Good Communities: The Rampage Shooting in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and Its Aftermath,” in Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence, ed. National Research Council (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2003), 77.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 80.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 77.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 73.


“A Portrait of Conflict,” Erie Times-News, March 7, 1999.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 86.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 86.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 85.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 87.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 82.


DeJong, Epstein, and Hart, “Bad Things Happen,” 78.


Joseph Lieberman, School Shootings: What Every Parent and Educator Needs to Know to Protect Our Children (Kensington: New York, 2008), 67.


Lieberman, School Shootings, 167–69.


Elisa Swanson, “Comment: ‘Killers Start Sad and Crazy’; Mental Illness and the Betrayal of Kipland Kinkel,” Oregon Law Review 79, no. 4 (2000): 1094, available online at


Lieberman, School Shootings, 119–20.


Frontline, “Dr. Orin Bolstad’s Testimony,” Frontline: The Killer at Thurston High


Frontline, “Dr. Orin Bolstad’s Testimony.”


Frontline, “Dr. Orin Bolstad’s Testimony.”


Swanson, “Comment: ‘Killers Start Sad and Crazy,’” 1083.


Frontline, “Transcript,” Frontline: The Killer at Thurston High, January 18, 2000,


Lieberman, School Shootings, 165.


Lieberman, School Shootings, 26.


Lieberman, School Shootings, 27.


Lieberman, School Shootings, 26.


Mike Anton and Lisa Ryckman, “In Hindsight, Signs to Killings Obvious,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 2, 1999.


American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 718.


Theodore Millon, Disorders of Personality: DSM-IV and Beyond, 2nd ed. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), 626.


Peter Langman, ed., “Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Columbine Documents Organized by Theme,” 1, 3, 10, 23, available online at Please note that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) has released over twenty thousand pages of documents relating to the attack at Columbine High School. In some cases, I cite the specific pages in these original documents. In other cases, for ease of finding the information, I cite other documents that are based on the original material, such as “Dylan Klebold’s Journal” or “The Search for Truth at Columbine.” These documents cite the page numbers from the original JCSO documents for those who want to see the source material. Both the original material and the edited documents are available online at


Dylan Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal and Other Writings,” transcr. and annot. Peter Langman (n.d.), 2, available online at


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 2.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 6.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 6.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 8.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 11.


Peter Langman, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 66–69.


Peter Langman, “The Search for Truth at Columbine,” 2008,


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 2.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 9.


A Columbine Site, “Basement Tapes,” n.d.,


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 3.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 3.


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 2.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, No. COA10-814 (2010), available online at


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State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 5.


Anne Blythe, “Castillo’s Family Says Father Was Violent,” NewsObserver (North Carolina), August 11, 2009,


Beth Karas, “Insanity Defense Takes Center Stage,”, August 12, 2009,


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 5.


Matthew Burns, “Accused School Shooter’s Mother, Sister Testify,”, August 11, 2009,


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 5.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 6.


Kelly Hinchcliffe, “Accused Shooter’s Journal: ‘Planning Your Suicide Is So Fun,’”, August 19, 2009,


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 11.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 6–7.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 12.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 15.


Beth Karas, “Defendant’s Eerie Words Heard at Murder Trial,”, August 3, 2009,


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 16.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 20.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 20.


State of North Carolina v. Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 21.


Pekka-Eric Auvinen, “Pekka-Eric Auvinen Online,” n.d., available online at


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Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 46.


Tomi Kiilakoski and Atte Oksanen, “Soundtrack of the School Shootings: Cultural Script, Music and Male Rage,” Young 19, no. 3 (2011): 261–62.


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 50.


Atte Oksanen, Johanna Nurmi, Miika Vuori, and Pekka Räsänen, “Jokela: The Social Roots of a School Shooting Tragedy in Finland,” in School Shootings: International Research, Case Studies, and Concepts for Prevention, ed. Nils Böckler, Thorsten Seeger, Peter Sitzer, and Wilhelm Heitmeyer, 198 (New York: Springer, 2013), 189–216


Oksanen et al., “Jokela,” 198.


Brendan O’Neill, “Rating Humanity: Finland’s School Shooting Highlights a Link Between Environmentalism and the Rise of a New Form of Anti-humanist Nihilism,” Guardian (Britain), November 14, 2007,


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 51.


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 115.


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 17.


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 48.


Kiilakoski and Oksanen, “Soundtrack of the School Shootings,” 262.


“Police: Finland Shooter Left Suicide Note,” Associated Press, November 8, 2007, available online at - .U8d6KKjPbhM.


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 18.


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 49.


Tomi Kiilakoski and Atte Oksanen, “Cultural and Peer Influences on Homicidal Violence: A Finnish Perspective,” New Directions for Youth Development 33, no. 129 (2011): 35, available online at


Kiilakoski and Oksanen, “Soundtrack of the School Shootings,” 263.


Kiilakoski and Oksanen, “Soundtrack of the School Shootings,” 264.


Kiilakoski and Oksanen, “Cultural and Peer Influences,” 37.


Kiilakoski and Oksanen, “Soundtrack of the School Shootings,” 257.


Langman, ed., “Pekka-Eric Auvinen Online.”


Finland Ministry of Justice, “Jokela School Shooting,” 48.


“Police: Finland Shooter.”


Millon, Disorders of Personality, 624.


Langman, ed., “Pekka-Eric Auvinen Online.”


Langman, ed., “Pekka-Eric Auvinen Online.”


Millon, Disorders of Personality, 628.


Millon, Disorders of Personality, 627.


Harding, Mehta, and Newman, “No Exit,” 147.


Lisa Popyk, “Teen Lives Out Murderous Dream,” Cincinnati Post, November 10, 1998, 1A.


“A Portrait of Conflict.”


Klebold, “Dylan Klebold’s Journal,” 3.


David Shapiro, Autonomy and Rigid Character (New York: Basic, 1981), 113.


Shapiro, Autonomy, 109.

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