February 12, 2009
Posted: 06:34 PM ET
Steven Kazmierczak was a sociology major at Northern Illinois University. He later went on to study social work as a graduate student at the University of Illinois. He was surrounded by professors who studied criminology and were experts in criminal behavior. His friends were also counselors-in-training.
When I first reported this story, one year ago, I met some of the people closest to Steven Kazmierczak. I asked them if they had seen any warning signs. I asked them if they thought he was capable of mass murder. They all told me they never saw this coming.
But why didn’t they? Two of the people closest to him told me they knew he had problems, they knew he was off and on anti-depressants, and that he was anxious and had obsessive compulsive disorder.
It makes me think that if a group of criminologists and counselors in training didn’t pick up on what some people would call “warning signs,” than what luck would an average person have at detecting strange behavior?
One year after the shooting, police records obtained by CNN show a much different story than the one his college friends, and professors told me.
The documents show that Steven Kazmierczak was spiraling out of control. As a teenager he attempted suicide on several occasions. He was hospitalized nine different times, prior to 2001.
He was kicked out of the Army for lying about his mental health problems on his application.
He suffered from OCD.
He was an insomniac.
He was off and on anti-depressants.
He loved horror movies, and began to identify with the sadistic killer “Jigsaw” from the movies “Saw.”
He got a large tattoo of “Jigsaw’s” alter-ego riding a tricycle through a puddle of blood on his forearm.
He owned multiple guns.
He had sex with several women he met on Craig’s List.
He was confused about his sexuality.
He loved on-line, first-person shooter games.
He was obsessed with studying serial killers – and seemed to admire Adolf Hitler and Ted Bundy.
The list is lengthy – and this doesn’t even come close to covering it all.
Of course, it is much easier to look back at someone after a tragedy like this, and ask yourself, “What did I miss?” I mean, what’s so wrong with loving horror movies? What’s wrong with being a gun owner or having tattoos or being obsessed with serial killers? Who is to say that any of this means someone is about to snap?
In this case, some of the people closest to Steven Kazmierczak were studying psychology – and many of them focused their work on how the criminal mind functions and operates.
So, my question is if none of them could spot a killer, how could any of us?
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