Skip to main content

California killer's family struggled with money, court documents show

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
George Chen, 19, was at home near the University of California, Santa Barbara, on Friday, May 23, when his roommate Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a deadly rampage. Rodger stabbed Chen and two other people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a nearby neighborhood, authorities said. More than a dozen others were injured before Rodger died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. George Chen, 19, was at home near the University of California, Santa Barbara, on Friday, May 23, when his roommate Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a deadly rampage. Rodger stabbed Chen and two other people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a nearby neighborhood, authorities said. More than a dozen others were injured before Rodger died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
HIDE CAPTION
Isla Vista victims
Isla Vista victims
Isla Vista victims
Isla Vista victims
Isla Vista victims
Isla Vista victims
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rodger's father fell into debt because of failed film, court papers show
  • His mother said she depended "on the generosity of family and friends to make ends meet"
  • Shooting suspect calls dad a "failure of a father"
  • Rodger blames "damnable mother" for not marrying a rich man
Was California killing spree preventable?

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Despite his designer clothes and BMW, Isla Vista shooting suspect Elliot Rodger was not from a wealthy family.

Grieving father reacts to rampage

Rodger's father, a photographer and film director, was deeply in debt, and his mother made just $40,000 a year as a research assistant for a film company, according to documents from his parents' divorce.

Santa Barbara County, California, investigators say Rodger, 22, stabbed to death three people in his apartment, shot two women to death outside a sorority house and killed another man inside a deli with gunfire before apparently killing himself near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara on Friday.

Timeline to 'Retribution': Isla Vista attacks planned over years

The 107,000-word "story" that Rodger sent to his parents, therapists and several others just before the killings suggested that he was angry that his parents were not wealthy.

"Where's the justice? I thought. Why couldn't I have been born into that life?" Rodger wrote. His father's family in Britain "was once part of the wealthy upper classes before they lost all of their fortune during the Great Depression," he wrote.

Rodger's mother and father had rich friends in Los Angeles, which allowed him to sometimes enjoy the benefits of money, such as tickets to a private Katy Perry concert in 2012.

"I tried to pretend as if I was part of a wealthy family," he wrote about that night. "I should be. That was the life I was meant to live. I WOULD BE!"

He blamed his parents for his lack of wealth.

"If only my damnable mother had married into wealth instead of being selfish," he wrote. She dated wealthy men after her divorce, giving her son hope and prompting him to "pester" her to marry one, he said. "I will always resent my mother for refusing to do this. If not for her sake, she should have done it for mine. Joining a family of great wealth would have truly saved my life. I would have a high enough status to attract beautiful girlfriends and live above all of my enemies."

His father also failed him, he wrote. "If only my failure of a father had made better decisions with his directing career instead wasting his money on that stupid documentary." The documentary -- a film about celebrities' view of God titled "Oh My God" -- plunged his father into debt when Rodger was a teenager and caused him to stop paying child support, according to court papers.

"My business has not generated any income in over a year," Peter Rodger said in a 2009 filing asking the judge to modify his $2,000 a month child support payments for his two children. "As a result, I currently receive no income from any source. I am searching for employment, but have been unable to find a job."

His mother noted that her former husband used the equity in his home to finance the documentary, but she agreed to a one-year suspension of child support. With her monthly income just $3,200 a month, she said had to "depend in the generosity of family and friends to make ends meet."

It was his working mother's generosity to her adult son, including paying his rent and the gift of a used BMW 328i, that allowed Rodger to live in the college community of Isla Vista. He bought his three handguns with money saved from gifts from grandparents and the $500 a month his father sent him, according to Rodger's writing.

Five revelations from the 'twisted world' of a 'kissless virgin'

He became obsessed with gaining wealth as the "only way I could lose my virginity, the only way I could have the beautiful girlfriend I know I deserve."

"I had no talents, so it was impossible for me to become a professional actor, musician, or athlete; and those were usually the ways that young people acquired such money," he wrote. "I could invent something, or start a business just like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook, but the chances of me achieving such a thing were the same chances I had of winning the lottery anyway."

He played California's Mega Millions lottery whenever the jackpot rose above $100 million. He drove to Arizona four times to buy Powerball lottery chances. He went into a rage each time he did not win.

"Without the prospect of becoming wealthy at a young age, I had nothing to live for now," Rodger wrote. "I was going to be a virgin outcast forever. I realized that I had to start planning and preparing for the Day of Retribution, even though I hadn't yet had any idea of what day that would be."

The divorce documents also confirmed that Elliot Rodger was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, when he was 7. "Elliot has special needs," his mother said in a sworn statement. "He is a high functioning autistic child."

That he was autistic should not lead to a conclusion that autism had any connection to the attacks, according to Scott Badesch, the president of the Autism Society of America. "Reputable study after study has concluded there is no such link."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Isla Vista rampage
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
The restraining order would temporarily bar a mentally unstable person from buying and possessing firearms after family, partners or friends call police.
updated 10:33 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Elliott Rodger left behind a 107,000-word "story" of what the shooting suspect called his "twisted world."
updated 10:33 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
As a California university mourns the deaths of six students, grieving parents are bracing to do the unimaginable -- bury their children.
updated 7:34 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Sorority sisters. Roommates and a visiting friend. A college student shopping at a deli. Six people were killed in the Isla Vista mass shooting.
updated 7:43 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
At 17, the killer began fantasizing about punishing "all of the popular kids and young couples for the crime of having a better life than me."
updated 10:27 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Elliot Rodger's journal is filled with lengthy diatribes against women.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
No, not all men channel frustration over romantic rejection into a killing spree. But yes, all women experience harassment, discrimination or worse.
updated 12:44 AM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
Three men at an apartment, two women outside a sorority and one visitor to a deli were killed in a rampage.
updated 10:32 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
As Elliot Rodger was carrying out a deadly rampage, his parents were frantically trying to find him, having just received a chilling manifesto from their son.
updated 8:04 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Chris Martinez, just 20 years old when he was gunned down at a deli Friday in California, dreamed of being a lawyer like his dad.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
Advocates and families of victims are frustrated by the lack of federal action on gun control.
updated 5:00 PM EDT, Sat May 24, 2014
CNN's Sara Sidner spoke with student Kyle Sullivan about the horrific aftermath of the "mass murder" in California.
updated 10:33 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
A mentally disturbed gunman possibly bent on retribution sprayed bullets from a slow-moving car in a California college town, killing six people.
updated 8:17 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Chaotic. Rapidly unfolding. Convoluted. Here's a rundown of what authorities believe happened.
updated 10:39 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
The recent shooting in Isla Vista was the second time that a mass killing has occurred in the unincorporated community in 13 years.
updated 10:53 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Investigators want to know who the man was behind the gun and why he killed six people.
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Sun May 25, 2014
Another week in America, another mass shooting.
updated 9:54 AM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
Police say the violence lasted just minutes but the shooter left six dead.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT